Hate-crime inquiry sought in teen's death

Race a factor in Pasadena incident, NAACP says

August 21, 2004|By Sarah Schaffer | Sarah Schaffer,SUN STAFF

Anne Arundel County's NAACP chapter called yesterday for a federal hate-crime investigation into the death of a black Pasadena teenager, just days after county prosecutors dropped murder charges against four white men accused of beating Noah Jamahl Jones to death July 24.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, the civil rights group says the fight that led to the 18-year-old's death was prompted by anger at interracial dating and that Jones' former high school and his Pasadena neighborhood have a history of racial tension.

The two-page correspondence -- which also was sent to state senators and local elected officials, including Anne Arundel County Executive Janet S. Owens -- named the Green Haven community and Northeast High School as places that long have had problems with "racial intolerance."

Gerald Stansbury, county chapter president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said Thursday that he was preparing the letter in hopes that lawmakers would focus on improving race relations at those locations. Stansbury did not return telephone calls seeking comment yesterday.

Northeast High School Principal George Kispert was unavailable for comment yesterday, and other county school administrators had no comment on the letter. A spokeswoman for Owens' office did not return phone calls yesterday.

The murder charges against Jacob Tyler Fortney, Richard Elbert McLeod, Joshua David Bradley and David Michael George were dropped late Wednesday based on a preliminary autopsy report.

Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee could not provide more details about the case yesterday but said that his office would welcome any help that federal investigators may provide as a result of the NAACP's letter.

Earlier in the week, the victim's mother, Robin Jones, told The Sun that the autopsy report said her son died from a fractured skull -- an injury consistent with a fall. She said the Jones family is not satisfied with the medical examiner's conclusion and the county prosecutors' decision to drop murder charges.

But the investigation continues, and the four released men still could face other charges, Weathersbee said.

"We are not finished," he said. "I don't think there's any reason to believe that they are completely off the hook here."

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