Balto. Co. teen pleads guilty to murder

Ex-Milford Mill athlete emptied revolver into group, killing 18-year-old

April 16, 2003|By Stephanie Hanes | Stephanie Hanes,SUN STAFF

Jerrard M. Bazemore, who months ago was a starter on Milford Mill Academy's football team, stood at the front of a packed Baltimore County courtroom yesterday and quietly admitted that he had shot and killed 18-year-old Charles H. Sharp III, a Landsdowne High School and ROTC graduate who wanted to join the Air Force.

With dozens of his school friends sitting behind him, the stocky, baby-faced Bazemore, also 18, listened as Baltimore County Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels outlined the rights he would forfeit by pleading guilty to second-degree murder and the use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime.

The charges stem from an evening in September when Bazemore emptied a .38-caliber revolver into a group of teens with whom his friends had been feuding. One of the bullets struck Sharp above his right eyebrow, entering his brain.

Bazemore's lawyer, Margaret Mead, said yesterday that her client had not meant to kill Sharp or anyone else, and was not indicating otherwise with his guilty plea. "He never intended anyone to die," she said.

The judge turned again to Bazemore and asked whether he was pleading guilty because he was, in fact, guilty. He responded with a soft, "Yes, sir."

Those two words sparked rustling among the nearly 50 people who filled the courtroom. Sharp's mother shook as she sobbed silently, and a number of Bazemore's friends stalked out.

"You're giving up your rights, Shorty," called one young man as he left the courtroom. "You should have taken that to trial."

Daniels told the crowd that the next person to speak out would be held in contempt of court and incarcerated.

Bazemore was arrested Sept. 23, two days after the shooting in a residential section of Randallstown. Police said they had matched the bullet used in Sharp's killing to a gun owned by one of Bazemore's friends, and said they had found gunshot residue on one of Bazemore's T-shirts. According to prosecutors, a number of the teens who were present during the shooting pointed to Bazemore as the gunman.

In court yesterday, Assistant State's Attorney Mickey J. Norman outlined the evening of Sept. 20 and the early morning of Sept. 21, telling how a verbal altercation between two groups of friends ended in murder.

He said that one group, which by the end of the night included Bazemore, drove twice near the Lucerne Road home of Tavon Liberto to confront Liberto and his friends, including Sharp. There was no violence between the two groups, however, until 12:45 a.m.

That's when Sharp, his brother and two friends were leaving Liberto's home, and when Bazemore and his group drove toward them and started firing, Norman said. Sharp's friends scattered, and when they returned minutes later they found Sharp -- the teen friends and family members described as "sweet and quiet" -- bleeding on the ground. Sharp was pronounced dead at Sinai Hospital about 20 hours later.

"I think about it every day," said Ryan T. Davis, the 17-year-old who had been Sharp's best friend since fourth grade. "I did everything with him, and to have him not there, to not have him included in things -- it's hard."

Bazemore is scheduled to be sentenced June 27.

After the hearing, much of Sharp's family milled outside the courtroom. Sharp's father, Charles H. Sharp Jr., said he was "pretty much satisfied" with the plea deal, and pleased there would be no trial. Others expressed similar sentiments.

"I'm glad it is over," said Wendy Sharp, the teen's aunt, who said he had been her favorite nephew. "We didn't want it to drag along. At least he can rest in peace now."

"Every day you wake up with it," said Shirley A. Rose, Sharp's grandmother, who said Sharp would always give her a kiss as soon as he stepped into her Parkville home. "I just don't understand what this young man was thinking of when he picked up that gun."

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