Victim was left on field

Bail denied for teen held in fatal beating

February 28, 2007|By John-John Williams IV and Tyrone Richardson | John-John Williams IV and Tyrone Richardson,sun reporters

After Robert Brazell was beaten with an aluminum baseball bat in a melee on a dark Ellicott City high school football field, his alleged assailant and others who participated ran away, leaving him bleeding on the ground with a fatal head injury, authorities said yesterday.

The man charged with first-degree murder in the case, Kevin Francis Klink, 18, a former wrestling champion from Columbia, was denied bail yesterday. He is accused of hitting Brazell during a fight early Saturday involving dozen of youths.

"Given the allegation of the case and [Klink's] flight at the time of the incident, the court believes he should be held without bond," Howard County District Judge Neil E. Axel said.

Assistant State's Attorney Susan A. Weinstein said that after Brazell, 18, was struck during a brawl at Mount Hebron High School, nobody immediately called for help. After authorities were alerted about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, Brazell was taken by helicopter to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he died Sunday.

It was not clear yesterday how long Brazell had waited for help to be called, police and state's attorney's spokesmen said yesterday.

Howard County police said yesterday they were working to determine what triggered the fight but believe that it was a result of a continuing dispute between two groups of youths from several Howard County high schools. Police would not say whether other participants in the melee will be arrested.

Klink graduated last year from Oakland Mills High School, where he was co-captain of the wrestling team. He won the Class 2A-1A South region wrestling title at 189 pounds a year ago. A friend said Klink worked at Life Time Fitness, a gym in Columbia. An employee who answered the phone at the gym last night said that Klink worked in the LifeCafe, a restaurant and nutrition store.

Brazell, who lived in Ellicott City, was a senior at Mount Hebron until he dropped out in December. His death is the first homicide in Howard County this year. The county had four homicides last year.

Witnesses told investigators that Klink was seen striking an unarmed person with a bat, Weinstein said at yesterday's bail hearing. Police said numerous bats were used during the fracas and that Brazell was approached from behind and struck on the head.

At the time the melee was taking place, police were less than a mile away breaking up an underage drinking party thrown by a Mount Hebron student.

Police spokeswoman Sherry Llewelyn said that investigators were trying to determine whether anyone involved in the fight was at the party earlier that night.

"In a case like this, it is our responsibility to look into any and every possibility," Llewelyn said. "And we are doing so."

Llewelyn confirmed that police cited 15 people at an undisclosed address on Robert Jay Way in Ellicott City on Friday night for possession of an alcoholic beverage while under age 21.

The homeowner referred questions about the party to his attorney, who declined to comment.

Police learned about the party through school resource officers, who were tipped off during the day Friday at Mount Hebron High School.

"Underage drinking is always a concern for the Police Department," Llewelyn said. "That is why we have a unit dedicated to combating it."

A. Donald C. Discepolo, Klink's attorney, said at yesterday's bail hearing that his client called police and arranged for them to arrest him at an Ellicott City gas station Sunday night. In asking that bail be set, Discepolo said that Klink did not have a criminal record and wasn't a risk to flee.

Klink, who had a short haircut and wore a county-issued orange jumpsuit, participated in the hearing by closed-circuit television from the Howard County Detention Center. He gave mainly one- and two-word answers as Axel read him the charges and explained his rights.

Klink's mother, Tracy Klink, a mathematics teacher at Centennial High School since 1991, was in the courtroom and stood when introduced by Discepolo. Wearing dark sunglasses, she quickly left the courtroom after the hearing and declined to speak to reporters.

Klink was charged Monday with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment.

During the hearing, Discepolo said the charging documents, which include statements Klink gave about his role in Brazell's death, were defective because police did not properly advise his client of his Miranda rights.

Prosecutors declined after the hearing to comment on the allegation.

One of two 17-year-old students injured in the melee, Jacob Sams, a junior, wrestled at Hammond High School until earlier this year when he quit the team, according to the school's assistant wrestling coach, Jason Freiert.

Sams, a junior, and Evan Tubbs, also a student at Hammond High in Columbia, were treated Saturday at Shock Trauma for their injuries and later released, police said.

Neither Sams nor Tubbs could be reached for comment yesterday.

Brazell's family did not respond to messages from The Sun left on the home number listed in court documents.


Sun reporters Lem Satterfield and Sandy Alexander contributed to this article.

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