40 years given in attack

Youth beat city man into a coma

sentence angers the victim's family

December 11, 2007|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN REPORTER

Anna Sowers took no solace sitting in a Baltimore courtroom yesterday as her husband's attacker - a 16-year-old boy - was given 40 years in prison.

Trayvon Ramos pleaded guilty to robbery and attempted first-degree murder after beating Zachary Sowers almost to death in June, but Sowers said afterward that the sentence did nothing for her.

"I'm totally disgusted," she said on the courthouse steps. "I feel that today, justice was not served at all. I feel like I've got no rights."

Zachary Sowers, 28, remains in a coma after he was beaten just steps away from his Patterson Park home by Ramos, who was given a life sentence with all but 40 years suspended. Sowers said the sentence was too lenient, and that Ramos should never be released from prison. Under Maryland law, Ramos will be eligible for parole in about 20 years.

Prosecutors say Ramos, who was tried as an adult, and three co-defendants robbed Sowers of his watch, cell phone and credit cards, leaving him bloody on the street. The three co-defendants accepted plea deals Friday on robbery charges and had agreed to testify against Ramos had his case gone to trial.

Eric Price, 17, Arthur Jeter, 18, and Wilburt Martin, 19, received eight-year sentences. Price and Jeter were juveniles at the time of the attack but were charged as adults.

Ramos knocked Sowers unconscious, then stomped him while Price stood by and watched in the 300 block of S. Robinson St., prosecutors said. Jeter and Martin sat in a nearby car.

Sowers has been in a vegetative state since that time, family members said in court yesterday. Friends and family have held fundraisers to help cover Sowers' medical costs and have set up a Web site with frequent updates on his condition.

The viciousness of the attack on Sowers shook the Southeast Baltimore neighborhood.

Gary Sowers, Zachary's father, said he has made many trips from his home in Ohio to Baltimore to visit his son the past six months but is intimidated by crime in the city. The father, reading a victim impact statement, asked Judge John C. Themelis to sentence Ramos to life in prison with no parole.

"My wife and I are afraid to travel in Baltimore," Sowers told the judge. "We're afraid to walk the streets in Patterson Park in broad daylight. I can't believe anyone who caused that kind of beating wasn't aware of their actions."

Father's outrage

Gary Sowers, like his daughter-in-law, expressed outrage afterward over the deal prosecutors reached with Ramos' lawyer.

"No amount of sentencing is enough," he said. "It's just been really hard on the family going through this."

Prosecutors proceeded with the plea agreement, despite the wishes of the family, after reviewing the evidence and witness statements, which observers say might have proved lacking. Only one fingerprint was found from Ramos, on a car near the crime scene. Other than the three co-defendants, no witnesses could identify Ramos as Sowers' assailant.

Sowers' wife, mother and two sisters also read statements during the two-hour court proceeding. Themelis brought all four defendants to the courtroom for sentencing after Ramos reached the plea agreement.

Kim Good, Sowers' mother, stared at the four teenagers while reading a written letter in court. Her voice rose to a near shout at times as she spoke through tears.

Good said she travels from her home in Frederick nearly every day to spend time with her son at the hospital.

"I leave in despair night after night," she said. "This horrible condition might be permanent."

Ashley Sowers, the victim's sister, recalled her final talk with her brother during Memorial Day weekend. She said she told Zachary that she was engaged.

`Last conversation'

"I had no idea this would be the last conversation I would have with him," she said.

As part of the agreement, the defendants won't face additional charges if Zachary Sowers dies. Ramos also pleaded guilty to another count of robbery. In that case, Ramos and Price stole a woman's purse a day after the attack on Sowers. Prosecutors say Price ordered a woman to give up her purse while Ramos served as the lookout. The woman resisted at first but relented after Price pointed a gun to her head. Price pleaded guilty Friday to the robbery.

During yesterday's hearing, Price and Martin apologized for the Sowers beating. Ramos did not say anything, nor did Jeter.

Said Martin, who drove the car used after the attack, "I'm sorry for what happened. I know sorry doesn't help, but I'm sorry."

Added Price, who stood and watched Ramos stomp Sowers, "I want to say sorry to them. That might not mean a lot. Y'all might still hate me. But I want to say sorry."

Anna Sowers said the apologies were hollow.

"I just think they're afraid now," she said.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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