Man admits attacking Kaufman

Attempt to kill the long-shot candidate for the U.S. Senate draws sentence of 12 years


A 43-year-old man pleaded guilty yesterday to trying to kill A. Robert Kaufman, a Baltimore landlord and long-shot candidate for the U.S. Senate who was clubbed with a crowbar and stabbed in a rent dispute with one of his tenants.

After a Circuit Court judge sentenced Henry Leon Davis to 12 years in prison, Kaufman turned to the defendant and asked him for a kidney donation. The socialist and perennial candidate for public office has said that his kidneys failed because of blood poisoning from the knife used in the attack.

Davis - who moments before had pleaded guilty to attempted second-degree murder - did not acknowledge the request.

Kaufman, 75, was beaten and stabbed in his home in June. He has undergone four operations, lost more than 80 pounds and spends three days a week, three hours a day, on a dialysis machine.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in Friday's editions about the sentencing for the man who attacked A. Robert Kaufman incorrectly stated that the U.S. Senate candidate has only six to eight years to live without a kidney transplant. He said the wait for a kidney from a cadaver could take that long.
The Sun regrets the errors.

"I don't know if you are repentant or not," Kaufman said to Davis in court. "But there is something you can still do about it. If you're Type A or O blood, you can donate one of your kidneys to me."

Davis' sister, Renea Smith, said later that she would support her brother if he decides to give the kidney.

"He's very remorseful," Smith said. "The drugs just took over and made him a person that he's not."

Davis declined to speak during the 35-minute court proceeding. Kaufman - who is running for the seat held by retiring Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes - used the platform to condemn a society that he says helped foster the attack.

Kaufman said he is sorry that Davis will have to spend so much time in prison, which he said has a poor education system. He made a plea for universal health care, a living wage and a commitment from the government to ridding society of illegal drugs, saying that if those things came to pass, "perhaps we wouldn't be in this situation."

Later, Kaufman said that if he had known the pain and suffering he would go through - and about the thousands of dollars he has spent on medical expenses - he would have fought back if given the chance.

Kaufman said he sleeps with a knife next to his bed and is considering buying a gun, a change of heart for the avowed pacifist.

"I'm not going to have this done to me again," Kaufman said.

Davis was a tenant in the first-floor room of Kaufman's building in the 2000 block of Hilton St.

Kaufman said Davis came to his apartment and offered to pay $300 of his overdue $400 monthly rent. As Kaufman went to get his ledger of rental accounts, he said, he was hit over the head with the crowbar and began bleeding on the dinning room floor. Kaufman handed over his wallet, then gave Davis $200 he had stashed in another room.

Police arrested Davis at the New Life Recovery House a day after the assault. A few days earlier, Kaufman said, Davis had come to him and said he was leaving to check into a heroin-rehabilitation program.

Kaufman, wearing blue jeans with white socks and sandals - along with a Vote Kaufman button on his sweater - has scars on his head from the attack. Walking gingerly outside the courtroom with his 80-year-old sister, Ruth Keyser Lipsetts, Kaufman said he is in good shape for his run at public office and will look to add to the $700 he has raised for his campaign.

Because of Davis' drug history, Kaufman doubts that he would be a good kidney donor. But if Davis is a healthy match, Kaufman said, he has no objection to accepting the organ.

"I'll take a kidney from anybody," said Kaufman, who added that he might have six to eight years to live if he doesn't get a transplant. "And it would be, psychologically, good for [Davis]."

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