An Anne Arundel County judge has dismissed the $1 million lawsuit filed by the family of teenager Noah Jamahl Jones against the owners of the Pasadena home where a July 2004 brawl began that led to Jones' death.
Circuit Judge Paul F. Harris Jr. faulted Jones for coming to the home owned by Steven and Evelyn Steinbach with a group of armed friends and then fighting.
"Jamahl Jones should have called 911 or left the scene. His own distinct, prominent, decisive act contributed to his death," Harris wrote in the seven-page opinion that was filed last week.
The ruling disappointed Robin Jones, mother of the Northeast High School student, who maintained that her son was a good child who has been unfairly characterized as a troublemaker.
"I hope the representatives from the federal Justice Department will be the ones to pursue this case as it should have been pursued from the beginning; as a hate crime, and that those who killed my son, tainted his reputation, lied on the witness stand and hid the truth will all be brought to shame," she wrote in an e-mail.
Attorneys for the Steinbachs did not respond to telephone messages.
Jones' death led to heightened racial tensions, a failed criminal prosecution, and a pending federal civil rights probe. Jones was black and those accused in his death are white.
Jones, 17, went to the Steinbach house, where a party was taking place July 24, 2004, with friends who thought another friend was in danger. Though there was no evidence that Jones had a weapon, there was evidence that some of his friends did, according to testimony in the one manslaughter trial held in his death.
The Steinbachs were not home at the time of the melee. Michael Steinbach, 20, a son, was having the party. One of Jones' friends pistol-whipped Steinbach, touching off a melee in which Jones may have chased another young man in the street, according to trial testimony.
Jones died of brain injuries that resulted when the back of his head struck the pavement.
Originally, four young men were charged with murder, but prosecutors dropped the charges. Then, the four and two others were charged with manslaughter. Charges against one were dropped in exchange for his testimony against the others.
But prosecutors were unable to convince a jury last year that one defendant kicked Jones' face when he was down. They dropped charges against the other defendants when the first defendant was acquitted.