May 4, 2012 in Nation/World

Brother guilty in beating

Judge rejects self-defense in neighborhood watch case
Sarah Brumfield Associated Press
 
Background

The Werdesheim brothers opted for a bench trial after withdrawing a motion to move their trial because publicity comparing their case to the fatal shooting of black Florida teen Trayvon Martin would make it tough to find an impartial jury.

BALTIMORE – A judge convicted one brother and exonerated the other Thursday in the 2010 beating of a black teenager they encountered while responding to a suspicious person report received by an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood watch group.

Judge Pamela White ruled from the bench on the case of Eliyahu, 24, and Avi Werdesheim, 22, highlighting concerns about the lack of credibility of the testimony from members of the group, Shomrim of Baltimore.

Eliyahu was convicted of false imprisonment and second-degree assault, and cleared of carrying a deadly weapon with intent to injure, and Avi was acquitted of all three counts.

The brothers had no visible reaction when the verdict was read, though Eliyahu’s wife left the courtroom in tears. Their attorneys said the brothers were relieved by Avi’s verdict but devastated by the judgment against Eliyahu. The brothers could have faced up to 13 years if convicted on all three charges. Eliyahu now faces up to 10 years on the assault count at sentencing in June.

Prosecutors said the brothers attacked the teen, hitting him with a radio and holding him on the ground. Eliyahu testified that he acted in self-defense when the teen attacked him with a nail-studded plank and said his brother, who was not a group member, wasn’t involved in the fight. The judge rejected Eliyahu’s claim of self-defense.

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