Teen gets 50 years for murder in school

All but 20 years suspended

judge says defendant asked maximum term

February 03, 2010|By Tricia Bishop | tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

A middle-schooler who killed another student in 2008 - the first murder on Baltimore school grounds since 2001 - was sentenced to 50 years in prison Tuesday, with all but 20 years of the term suspended.

"You took something that you can't put back," Circuit Judge Wanda K. Heard said to defendant Timothy Oxendine, who turned 16 this month.

He pleaded guilty in November to stabbing 15-year-old Markel Williams three times in the stairwell of William H. Lemmel Middle School a year earlier. The defense claimed Williams was bullying his attacker, a former friend, though the victim's family said they had been fighting over a girl.

In a letter read aloud by Assistant State's Attorney Patrick Moran, Williams' father talked of devastation and tragedy. He asked that Oxendine receive the maximum sentence agreed upon during the plea deal: 50 years, with all but 25 suspended.

But after Oxendine quietly apologized to the Williams family and, to Heard's ears, requested the maximum sentence himself because he deserved no less, the judge took mercy on him, announcing that he did have "character."

Accounts vary as to whether that's what he actually said. To some, including Oxendine's attorney, it sounded like he was simply recounting what he thought he'd agreed to receive and not asking for the maximum. But after the hearing, the judge stood by her interpretation and her decision to increase the suspended time. She had also required that he be brought to her courtroom regularly over the next five years, so she can check on his progress and perhaps modify his sentence.

"I don't think that as a judge, your responsibility ends when you sentence someone," she said.

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