Teens unlikely suspects, those who know them say

Pair played basketball and video games, had no criminal record as adults

February 22, 2005|By Jennifer McMenamin and Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jennifer McMenamin and Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

The two teens charged in the killing of a St. Paul's School dean at Towson Town Center lived in working-class communities in Essex and Middle River, where they played basketball and video games.

Neither John Edward Kennedy Jr. nor Javon Clark, according to friends and relatives, had been caught up in the kind of violence with which the two 18-year-old high school graduates have been charged.

"I didn't think he'd ever do something like that," said Corey Crawley, 16, a friend who shot hoops, played video games and went to the movies with Kennedy. "You got a wrong man."

Kennedy and Clark were each charged with first-degree murder in the death of William A. Bassett, a science teacher and dean at the prestigious private school in Brooklandville.

Neither suspect has an adult criminal record, and police would not say whether they had juvenile records.

Junious Kennedy, 70, said in an interview in his West Baltimore home that he was not close with his grandson and had not heard about the arrest. He described him as "quiet," and said, "I thought he wouldn't do something like that."

Neighbors said John Kennedy lives with his mother, stepfather and two sisters in a two-story townhouse near the end of South Marlyn Avenue in Essex.

A neighbor who refused to identify himself said he had recently seen someone with a shotgun at the Kennedy home.

Crawley said he and Kennedy attended Chesapeake High and often talked about girls, rap music and clothes.

Neighbors on Old Knife Court in Middle River said Clark lived in the two-story townhouse with his brother and two friends. The young men didn't cause trouble - aside from occasionally playing music too loud, neighbors said.

One said the Clark brothers drove an old Mercury Cougar. A witness jotted down the license plate of a mid-1980s Cougar that caught his eye Friday night at the mall and contacted police.

Tony Baublitz, 17, used to live across the street from Clark and graduated from the same school, Kenwood High.

"He was a pretty nice kid," Baublitz said. Told that Clark had been charged in the shooting, he added, "He didn't look like that kind of person."

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