Defendant says Pasadena teen slain in August was carrying a weapon

Statement, first to claim victim armed, is part of prosecution deal


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April 01, 2005|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

One of six men charged with manslaughter in the death of a Pasadena teenager at a melee last summer claims that the victim, Noah Jamahl Jones, was wielding a hammer on the night of the brawl, according to newly filed court documents.

In a 12-page statement, defendant Joshua Bradley, who has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for having charges against him dismissed, contends Jones, 17, had "just the hammer." And two of Jones' companions were armed - one with a gun, the other with a stun gun, Bradley, 20, alleged.

The Sun has previously reported that witnesses told a grand jury that Jones' companions were armed, but Bradley is apparently the first to allege that Jones was carrying a weapon. The case has raised racial issues because Jones and his companions were black; all of the defendants are white.

A one-page excerpt of Bradley's statement accompanied motions filed this week by lawyers for Jacob Fortney, 19, whose trial on manslaughter and related charges in Jones' death is scheduled to begin in early May in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.

Fortney's lawyers consider Bradley's statement suspect and want it thrown out.

The statement "conveniently exonerates all other co-defendants in the death of Jones as Bradley claims that the defendant alone severely assaulted Jones, sometime after Jones' fall, causing the death of Jones," Fortney's lawyers wrote.

Bradley has maintained that he did not touch Jones, who died of head injuries after a brawl outside a party at a Pasadena home.

"To my knowledge, the prosecutors are the only people saying that Jamahl was armed," said one of Fortney's lawyers, David W. Fischer.

Jones' mother, Robin Jones, said her son was unarmed and that this is the first she has heard anyone claim otherwise.

In court papers, Fortney's attorneys also ask Judge Joseph P. Manck to force prosecutors to disclose their theory of Jones' death so that they can plan a defense.

"The fact that they are on their third theory as to what happened says to me that they don't know what happened," Fischer said.

Fortney and three others initially were charged with murder.

Prosecutors dropped the charges in August after they said autopsy results revealed that Jones died of injuries consistent with a fall. Amid criticism from some in the black community, prosecutors convened a grand jury to investigate the case. Six defendants were then indicted on manslaughter, a less serious charge, and other counts in November.

Besides Bradley and Fortney, of Pasadena, the others charged are Scott E. Burton Jr., 19; Gregory M. Florentino, 21, also of Pasadena; David Michael George, 20, of Glen Burnie; and Richard Elbert McLeod, 19, of Chestertown.

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