Spain gets 25 years in shooting

W. Baltimore boy, 10, hit with stray bullet on stoop in July 2002

Judge calls crime `vicious'

Case heard in two trials

key witness also killed

October 24, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Perry Spain, the West Baltimore man convicted of shooting a 10-year-old in the neck with a stray bullet, was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison by Circuit Court Judge Shirley M. Watts, who called the crime "vicious and heinous."

"I don't think you appreciate the seriousness of your conduct," Watts told Spain, 21, who was convicted this year in the shooting of Tevin Davis as the child played on the steps of his rowhouse in July last year.

Yesterday's hearing was an end to a long and contentious case that ignited a war of words between State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and Mayor Martin O'Malley, who disagreed about how the matter should be handled.

The case included two trials, several postponements, a request for a gag order and a witness who was killed before he could testify.

Watts handed Spain a sentence that exceeded state sentencing guidelines, which would be between 10 years and 21 years for attempted second-degree murder. Prosecutors recommended 20 years, while the defense asked for five.

"The purpose of this is to protect the public," Watts said.

Spain's first trial in April ended in a hung jury after 11 jurors wanted to acquit him and one wanted to convict. At the second trial, Spain gave up his right to a jury trial, and Watts convicted him of attempted second-degree murder, assault, reckless endangerment and handgun offenses.

Tevin spoke at the hearing yesterday, saying other kids make fun of him because he lost two of his front teeth in the shooting. The bullet entered the back of his neck and exited his mouth, injuring his tongue, teeth and lip.

"When I go outside, people tease me," Tevin said.

Prosecutor Roger Harris said Tevin is the epitome of an innocent victim.

"He was sitting on his own stoop outside his own house in his own neighborhood," Harris said. "He was doing what families are supposed to do, even in Baltimore City. He was playing."

Defense lawyer Warren A. Brown told the court that Spain was also a victim, because he had a difficult childhood. Spain's mother was a drug addict who spent time in prison when Spain was a young boy, Brown said.

As a juvenile, Spain was arrested three times for drug charges, and was once caught with 46 vials of cocaine when he was 13 years old.

"More than anything else, this was an act of rage and hostility," Brown said of Tevin's shooting. "This was an accident."

Tevin was shot about 9 p.m. July 15 last year as he and some of his friends were sitting on the steps of the Davis home on West Fairmount Avenue.

Next door, Tevin's mother was talking to her neighbors outside. Suddenly, they heard a series of shots and started screaming for the children to go inside. Afraid, Tevin ran next door to his mother. As he ran, he was shot once in the neck.

Police later learned that a craps game had been going on nearby minutes before the shooting. Four men ran up and, at gunpoint, robbed the men playing dice, according to police. Prosecutors said Spain was one of the men who was playing dice, and that he ran after the assailants who robbed him, shooting at them. One of the bullets hit Tevin.

Immediately after the attack, O'Malley and Jessamy argued publicly about whether prosecutors botched Spain's bail review hearing.

The case suffered what prosecutors called a "catastrophic loss" in November, when a key witness in the case, Juan Wilson - whom police described as a drug dealer - was shot nine times. The killing remains unsolved.

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