Charges dropped against teen in firebombing case

17-year-old who attacked the home of a Baltimore community activist was accused of attempted murder


News from around the Baltimore region

April 09, 2005|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,SUN STAFF

Attempted-murder charges were dropped yesterday against a Baltimore teenager who told police that he helped firebomb the home of a North Baltimore community activist at the behest of a gang leader, the city state's attorney's office said.

Prosecutors declined to detail what prompted them to drop all charges against Brian J. Harrison, 17, of the 3700 block of Greenmount Ave., during a preliminary hearing in District Court other than saying they reconsidered the case after further investigation.

"In conjunction with the United States attorney's office, a decision was made that there was insufficient evidence to proceed on the attempted-murder charge, the only charge that allowed us to charge him as an adult," Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman for Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, said in a statement.

In a case being investigated by both state and federal authorities, Harrison was one of seven people charged in the Jan. 15 Molotov cocktail attack on the home of Harwood Community Association President Edna McAbier on North Lorraine Avenue. McAbier, who had complained about drug trafficking in her neighborhood, was in the house but was unhurt.

At the time, Harrison -- who had been held without bond since his arrest four weeks ago -- faced state charges as an adult of attempted first-degree murder and first-degree arson along with another 17-year-old, Antonio Newsome of Baltimore. Sviatko declined to say whether similar charges would be brought against Harrison in state juvenile court, citing privacy rules.

Facing federal charges, including witness tampering, criminal conspiracy and use of a firearm in the commission of a crime, are Andre Wilkins, 31, of Randallstown, and Jackie Brewington, 18, Richard M. Royal, 20, Isaac Smith, 25, and Nakie Harris, 29, all of Baltimore.

A spokeswoman for the Baltimore Police Department said she would not be able to comment on the case yesterday.

One of Harrison's defense attorneys said that the state dropped the charges because prosecutors realized that Harrison's role was not as large as the other defendants'.

According to charging documents, Harrison identified Terrance A. Smith, who is being held on a separate murder charge, as the gang leader who made it known that he "wanted that [expletive] dead," referring to community leader McAbier.

Smith has not been charged in the attack, officials said yesterday.

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