Teen gets 10 years in attack

Baltimore County boy was stabbed at Columbia mall

August 02, 2008|By Tyeesha Dixon | Tyeesha Dixon,Sun reporter

A teenager convicted of aiding in the near-fatal stabbing of another teenager at The Mall in Columbia this year was sentenced yesterday to 10 years in prison in Howard County Circuit Court.

Cordero Dante Taylor, 17, of Forestville in Prince George's County, was convicted last month of first-degree assault after a co-defendant, Bernardo Leconte, 18, stabbed a 17-year-old Baltimore County boy, Julian Lichtenstein, several times in the mall parking lot after a drug deal went bad. Taylor was tried as an adult.

Although Taylor did not stab Lichtenstein, Maryland law states that aiding and abetting in such an assault brings equal responsibility to involved parties.

"What makes this offense terrible ... first and foremost is just the horrific injuries Mr. Lichtenstein suffered," Circuit Judge Richard Bernhardt said in court yesterday as he announced his sentence.

According to prosecutors and witness testimony, Lichtenstein had arranged to sell marijuana to Taylor and Leconte outside the JCPenney department store about 4:30 p.m. Jan. 8. After an argument over the quality of the drugs, Leconte pulled out a serrated knife with a 4- to 6-inch blade. During Taylor's trial, Lichtenstein testified that he punched Leconte in the face while Taylor stood nearby.

Although accounts of what happened next differ, the judge concluded during the trial that Taylor struck Lichtenstein to keep him from leaving the fight and that Taylor followed Leconte as he chased Lichtenstein and watched as Leconte stabbed the teen while he lay in the grass.

Lichtenstein was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where he stayed for a month. In addition to several other significant injuries, part of one of his kidneys was cut off, prosecutors said.

"It's difficult for me to understand where in this society that knife has an appropriate role," Bernhardt said, noting the large blade and serrations.

During the trial, Bernhardt granted a motion to dismiss the other charges against Taylor, which included attempted first- and second-degree murder.

Although Taylor could have faced 25 years in prison for the assault conviction, state sentencing guidelines suggest five to 12 years. Prosecutors Susan Weinstein and James Dietrich suggested a minimum 12-year sentence, but Bernhardt imposed 25 years with all but 15 years suspended.

In making the ruling, Bernhardt said he considered Taylor's juvenile record, which includes two violent robberies, and the "level of dangerousness he presents to the community." As a result of a juvenile proceeding, Taylor had been ordered not to have contact with Leconte at the time of the stabbing.

Defense attorney Gabriel A. Terrasa asked the judge to consider Taylor's youth when imposing sentence. He also argued that his client has the potential to be rehabilitated.

The Division of Correction "is tough enough for an adult. ... Imagine what it would be like for a 17-year-old," Terrasa told the judge.

After the sentencing, Terrasa said he was disappointed with the sentence but "accepts the judge's ruling."

"He's a 16-year-old who made a mistake, and he's paying for it," Terrasa said. Taylor turned 17 last month.

Prosecutors said they were pleased with the sentence and found it to be fair.

"We feel that justice was served," Weinstein said.

Weinstein and Dietrich are also to prosecute Leconte, who is from Columbia. His trial is scheduled for Sept. 2. He is being held at the Howard County Detention Center with no bond. He has been indicted on charges of attempted first- and second-degree murder, armed robbery and several other counts.


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