Friend testifies defendant took part in `bum stomping'

Teen accused of killing homeless man in 2001

November 20, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Harold "Jay" Waterbury and his 16-year-old friends had a vicious plan to clean up their South Baltimore neighborhood, prosecutors said. The teens called it "bum stomping," meaning they would bludgeon homeless men to force them out of the area, according to testimony.

But prosecutors say the plan turned deadly.

Waterbury, now 19, went on trial yesterday in Circuit Court in the beating death in April 2001 of Gerald J. Holle, 55, a homeless man living under the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Bridge when he was killed by several blows to the head that cracked his skull.

"The purpose behind their game was that the bum would leave Baltimore or they'd make them leave," said prosecutor Michelle Grunwell in her opening statement yesterday.

Assistant Public Defender Angela Shelton portrayed Waterbury differently - as a kind but illiterate teen who took his friends into his home when they had nowhere to live. Shelton also said Waterbury was a follower, who is so slow that he can't remember his birthday.

"There are shepherds and there are sheep," Shelton told the jury.

The attack on Holle was one of a series of such assaults on homeless men in South Baltimore between February 2001 and June 2001, police said. Another transient man, George Williams, 46, was also killed. Several others were seriously hurt.

Waterbury and his friends - Daniel Ennis Jr. and Michael Wayne Farmer - formed a gang in early 2001 called the South Side Flock and the Master Criminal Boys, according to testimony yesterday. Their mission was bum stomping, Ennis told the jury. He and Farmer have admitted their roles in the attacks and are serving prison terms.

The three lived like brothers in Waterbury's home in the 1700 block of S. Hanover St.

"If you run into a homeless person in South Baltimore, they could either leave or you beat them up and give them a reason to leave," testified Ennis, now 18.

"Why did you do this?" asked Grunwell.

"I consider them trash," replied Ennis, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in May and is serving a 20-year sentence for his part in Holle's death.

Farmer pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Holle and Williams. Farmer, originally from Westmoreland, Kan., was sentenced to two consecutive life prison terms in August.

In chilling testimony yesterday, Ennis carefully explained how the trio would find homeless men and carry out the beatings.

"We would find out where they were and somebody would distract them and when we had them relaxed, we would beat them up," Ennis said. "You would direct the blows to the head; it was easier to knock them out that way. Easier to take what they had in their pockets."

He said they used "sticks, bats, whatever was around ... a crow bar."

Ennis also said Waterbury was the first to strike Holle in the head, using a homemade weapon called a "gonza wand." He described it as a steel pole shaped like a tuning fork and sharpened at the tips.

The teens would rob the homeless men after they beat them, Ennis said. When they killed Holle, they dug in his pockets and recovered a dollar and change, as well as a pack of cigarettes, according to testimony.

"It became that we'd rob them and take their worldly possessions after a while," Ennis testified.

Ennis said he lived with the Waterbury family after his own family moved and he had no place to stay. He testified that he thinks of Waterbury as a brother, and Waterbury's mother as his own mother.

He said Farmer, who had followed his pregnant girlfriend from Kansas to Baltimore, joined the household later. Farmer and his girlfriend lived next door to the Waterburys, until the woman moved away.

"We let him stay with us," Ennis said.

Holle's brother, Andrew Holle, 59, who lives in San Francisco, testified that his brother suffered from a mental illness and that he had not seen him since 1975.

"He was charismatic until one day he got reclusive," Andrew Holle said. "At one time he had a lot of friends, but then he just wanted to be away from people."

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