4 teens plead not guilty to murder in Feb. killing

18-year-old involved in brawl at nightclub was fatally shot later


News from the around Baltimore region

April 13, 2005|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

The fight began as a routine brawl during "teen night" at Hammerjacks nightclub in downtown Baltimore and ended days later with an 18-year-old fatally shot inside his car near Lake Clifton-Eastern High School, prosecutors say.

But minutes before Reginald Gray was killed in February, court documents say, he used his cell phone to call his girlfriend -- a call that helped police arrest four suspects. He told her that if anything happened to him, it was the teenagers whom he and his friends had beat up at Hammerjacks who did it.

James Edward Robinson Jr., 18, Aaron Shawn Bell, 18, Derrick Davis, 17, and Xavier Lewis, 18, pleaded not guilty yesterday to first-degree murder and numerous assault and weapons charges related to Gray's killing.

They are scheduled for trial July 12 in Baltimore Circuit Court. Davis' defense attorney, John Sinclair Denholm Jr., could not be reached for comment. It was unclear yesterday whether the other teens are represented by lawyers.

Authorities described a rowdy weekend scene outside Hammerjacks on Guilford Avenue late Feb. 20 and early Feb. 21.

The club was sponsoring a "teen night" and had to turn away throngs of young people because it had reached capacity, said Officer Troy Harris, a police spokesman.

At some point, a fistfight broke out between Gray and his friends and Robinson and his friends, according to court documents. Gray's group was getting the better of Robinson's group when an off-duty police officer broke up the fight, the documents say.

Ramon Ramirez, general manager of Hammerjacks, said he could not recall the fistfight. "We go through so many fights here," he said.

Police did not make any arrests at the club that night, Harris said.

In retaliation, Robinson's friends jumped a teenager who had fought alongside Gray at Hammerjacks as he left Thurgood Marshall High School on Feb. 23, according to court documents.

That teen, Eric Carlton, called Gray and other friends, and the group drove to Robinson's East Baltimore neighborhood to confront him, the documents say.

When they arrived, Gray and his friends realized they were outnumbered and drove away, but Robinson's friends spotted Gray's 1993 Ford and hopped into three cars to chase after it, according to the documents.

The four cars sped up to St. Lo Drive, where police said the three cars blocked in Gray's car.

Gray called his girlfriend moments before gunmen sprayed his car with bullets. He was shot once in the left lung. Another gunshot grazed Carlton. Two others in the car were unhurt, police said.

Robinson and Bell gave taped statements to police after their arrests Feb. 27 in Essex, according to court documents.

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