Man given 9 years in shooting of 3 youths

Safety was in jeopardy, he says before sentencing

March 21, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A 60-year-old East Baltimore man who shot three youths because they "jeopardized my peace" was sentenced to nine years in prison yesterday after state Del. Clarence Davis testified on his behalf as a character witness.

Davis, who once sponsored a bill to allow the state to "cane" teen-age vandals, missed the beginning of a House budget debate yesterday morning to support William Banks.

The delegate said Banks must have been pushed over the edge July 28 to wound the youths, ages 11, 15 and 18.

"There had to have been extenuating circumstances for him to do something like this," said Davis, a Baltimore City Democrat who has been a friend since they were 6-year-olds.

"The young people today have become terrorists. We live in a society where parents no longer have control over their children. We are afraid in our own homes."

Banks accepted a plea agreement last month and pleaded guilty to shooting the youths with a .38-caliber revolver he had stolen from his employer the night before.

He pleaded guilty to three counts of assault and handgun charges. As part of the plea arrangement, prosecutors dropped attempted murder charges and agreed to a prison term of 10 years or less. The first five years of his sentence will be served without the possibility of parole.

Banks told police the youths had been bothering him for some time, and that he believed at least one of them was dealing drugs in front of his home.

He shot Barry Bolling, who was 18 at the time, three times, and two of the bullets are still in his chest. He hit William James, who was 15, once in the right arm; and Dominique Byrd, who was 11, in the left forearm. None sustained life-threatening injuries, prosecutors said.

"If they got on my nerves that's no justification for shooting them," Banks told the court. "I felt as though my peace was jeopardized."

Prosecutors said Banks and his neighbors called police 320 times in the year before the incident to complain about problems on the block.

After the shooting, Banks told detectives that he wanted the youths to move off the steps of his home in the 100 block of N. Decker Ave.

But according to prosecutor William F. Cecil, on the day of the incident, the youths were sitting on the steps of an abandoned house next to Banks' home. He told them to move, and they refused.

Bolling was shot twice in the upper chest. The others ran up the street and turned east on Fairmont Avenue. Banks ran to the corner and fired, hitting them each once, Cecil said.

Banks then came upon the wounded Bolling on the ground. Bolling lifted his left hand in the air, and Banks shot him in that hand, Cecil said.

Banks called police and told them what he had done. He was arrested hours later and has remained jailed.

Bolling's mother testified yesterday, saying her son is fearful of elderly people.

"Whatever happened that day, my son didn't deserve to be shot," Joyce Mack said.

Cecil, the prosecutor, asked her if her son deals drugs.

"To the best of my knowledge," she said, "I don't know."

The youngest victims did not have juvenile criminal records, prosecutors said. Bolling was sentenced last year to 18 months' probation after being convicted of drug possession and resisting arrest.

Banks also has a criminal record. In 1974, he was charged with murder in the killing of Vincent Pecora, a co-worker at the General Motors plant. The two had a feud, and Banks shot him, saying he feared for his safety. Months later, he pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to two years in prison, of which he served six months.

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