Teneille Lee, 19, friend of Nicholes Maultsby, and others gathered… (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore…)
The young woman who was held up at gunpoint last weekend in South Baltimore is certain she identified the correct two suspects for police. She focused on their faces, she said Tuesday, knowing "it would be the only thing that would get them."
But the mother of one of the men charged in Saturday's attack is just as certain that he was sitting in a Federal Hill pizzeria at the time, and the shop's manager says he has video to prove it. Tuesday evening, relatives protested the arrests outside the Southern District police station.
The victim, Lauren Spates, said the attack by bicycle-riding robbers came as she and her husband walked home from a Federal Hill tavern about 1 a.m. One assailant pressed a revolver to the back of his head, she said, and another forced her to remove her $19,000 diamond engagement ring and gold wedding band.
"Believe me, I'll never forget that man's face when he asked me to take my rings off my finger," said Spates, 27, a former Ravens cheerleader who now works in sales. "I remember thinking, 'You're not going to get away with this.'"
Police have charged Julien Rosaly, 22, and Nicholes Maultsby, 20, who share a rowhouse in the 1100 block of Leadenhall St., near M&T Bank Stadium, with armed robbery, assault and several illegal gun counts. Both are being held without bail.
Rosaly's mother, Gloria Alvarez, 41, said that the two men were not together this weekend. She said Maultsby was at a girl's house in Sharp-Leadenhall until 2 a.m. and that her son was at Maria D's on Light Street. The shop's surveillance video shows him there from 12:47 a.m. to 1:42 a.m., she said.
"I think it's a little bit of mistaken identify," said Alvarez, who lives in Essex. "I don't know why these people picked him."
Alvarez said the suspects share a single old bicycle they pieced together with spare parts. The victims said the suspects were riding little bikes that resembled BMXs. Police said they have not found the small black revolver or any of the items taken from the couple.
The manager of Maria D's, Billy Diakokominos, said he watched the video Monday night and recognized Rosaly, whom he knows as "Rico," sitting at a window table during the time of the attack about 15 blocks away. "We have him sitting there with a couple of kids," said the manager, adding that Rosaly is a regular customer.
Alvarez said her son told police that he had been at the restaurant. "I know arresting officers go check out their alibis and they didn't even do that," she said.
Baltimore police said they're confident in their investigation. "We have a victim who positively identified the suspect," said spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, noting that courts can sort out conflicting claims of identity. He said detectives "will review the video" but that "officers did have probable cause to make an arrest based on the statements of the victim."
Spates said that she and her husband, Daniel Wieser, were returning from Ryleigh's Oyster on Cross Street in Federal Hill, having watched college basketball playoff games.
Spates said she paused at Covington and Clement streets. "We saw these two guys on little BMX bikes," she said. "They were riding, but not with a purpose. They were trolling the streets. I got to feel uncomfortable."
She said she picked up the pace, still talking to her husband, but then turned to find "he wasn't there."
Spates said she heard a muffled voice telling Wieser to get on the ground, and saw a man holding the black revolver to the back of her husband's head. Another man came up to her, forced her to the ground and said, "I want your jewelry, [expletive]," according to the police report.
The victim said the man tried to pull her rings off and then made her do it. The attackers rode off on their bicycles, police said, with the rings, a wallet, two cell phones and earrings.
Court documents say that Wieser did not get a good look at the assailants, but that "Spates had more time to see what was going on before she was approached and placed on the ground."
Police said an officer recalled seeing people "fitting those descriptions on bicycles a little earlier on the shift" and stopped three people on Leadenhall Street. Police said Spates "positively identified Mr. Rosaly as one of the suspects," and later identified Maultsby from a photo array.
Spates said she and her husband have lived in South Baltimore for 18 months, and before that she lived in Canton, Federal Hill and Locust Point. In all those years, she said, "neither of us have been accosted, approached or even looked at the wrong way. We never felt unsafe, even once."
On Monday night, the couple walked to a community meeting in Riverside, where the attack was the main subject of conversation. "I'm not going to lie," Spates said. "I looked over my shoulder. … This only happened a couple days ago. But over time, I don't think I'll be looking over my shoulder as much."
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