Third defendant found guilty in killing homeless man

sentencing in February

Teen-ager also charged in two other fatal beatings

November 26, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

A South Baltimore teen-ager who prosecutors say fatally beat three homeless men in a sport he and his friends called "bum stomping" was found guilty yesterday of murdering one of the men by fracturing his skull.

Minutes after the verdict in Baltimore Circuit Court, defendant Harold "Jay" Waterbury, 19, was led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, and hissed at a detective who worked on the case, "I'm going to get you."

Waterbury could be sentenced to life in prison plus 78 years. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 20.

The teen-ager also has been charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of two other homeless men, court records show. He is scheduled to stand trial next week in the bludgeoning death of George Williams, 46. Prosecutors say the attacks were twisted attempts by Waterbury and his friends to "clean up" their neighborhood.

Waterbury was the third defendant to be found guilty of the attack in April 2001 that killed Gerald J. Holle, 55, a homeless man living under the Monroe Street bridge in the 1800 block of S. Monroe St. Holle suffered several blows to the head.

Waterbury, along with Daniel Ennis Jr., 18, and Michael Wayne Farmer, 20, formed a gang in early 2001 called the South Side Flock, and, alternately, the Master Criminal Boys, according to testimony.

Their mission was "bum stomping," meaning they planned to beat and rob homeless men to force them out of the area, Ennis testified last week. They used baseball bats, a crowbar, a steel pole and wooden sticks in the attacks.

Ennis and Farmer are serving prison time for their roles in the murders. Ennis was sentenced to 20 years and Farmer received two consecutive life terms.

Assistant State's Attorney Michelle Grunwell, who prosecuted the case, told the jury in her closing argument yesterday that Holle's death was long and excruciating.

"The vicious, sickening brutality with which these three young men beat Gerald Holle leaves no doubt that this was a thought-out and planned killing," Grunwell said. "This was not a quick and painless killing. It was a repeated pummeling of a homeless man."

Assistant Public Defender Angela Shelton has portrayed Waterbury as a kind but illiterate young man who suffers from depression and who took his friends into his home when they had no place to live.

Waterbury's family was in the courtroom yesterday but declined to comment on the case.

The jury deliberated for about 2 1/2 hours before finding Waterbury guilty of felony murder, second-degree murder, assault, robbery with a dangerous weapon and concealing a dangerous weapon.

They said the deliberations were fairly quick because all 12 were convinced of Waterbury's guilt. It was the testimony last week of Phillip Waterbury, the defendant's 14-year-old brother, that made up their minds, jurors said.

Philip Waterbury told police in a taped statement in 2001 that his older brother asked him to lie to detectives to give him an alibi. In court, Philip Waterbury recanted his statement to the jury, saying his brother never told him to lie. Jurors said they did not believe him.

"The testimony of the little brother, that's what sealed his fate," said juror Mary Lou McHugh. "He changed his testimony from the statement he gave police."

Juror Angela Hopewell said, "His recorded statement said something else."

They said they did not find the testimony of Waterbury's friend, Ennis, especially credible. Ennis testified last week that he beat up homeless men with Waterbury because he considered them "trash."

The attack on Holle was one of a series of assaults on homeless men in South Baltimore between February 2001 and June 2001, police said.

In addition to being charged in the murder of Williams, whose body was discovered in the 1500 block of S. Eutaw St., Waterbury is charged in a third killing of a homeless man. Harry Lawhorn, 47, was found in the 2100 block of Russell St.

The three men lived in Waterbury's home in the 1700 block of S. Hanover St. The Waterburys took in Ennis and Farmer because they had been abandoned by their families and would otherwise have been homeless, according to testimony.

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