In a case that appears in some aspects similar to the Trayvon Martin case, Baltimore Circuit Court Judge Pamela White has found one Jewish brother guilty of assaulting a black teen, while walking in their Jewish neighborhood in 2010. The second brother was acquitted. The two brothers chose a trial before a judge, instead of their originally requested jury trial. The brothers stated they did not believe they could get a fair jury trial, in light of similarities between their case and the Trayvon Martin case.
Prosecutors said that in November, 2010, Eliyahu Werdsheim and his brother Avi attacked the black 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. The judge rejected Eliyahu’s claim of self-defense.
And in a real twist of irony, the 16 year old black teen took the stand and refused to testify against the defendants. The teen, after taking the stand, said he should not have called the police and would not testify. The 911 tape of his reporting the incident was allowed into evidence. Although, prosecutors often drop a case when a victim is reluctant to testify, Baltimore State’s Attorney Greg Bernstein chose to continue with the trial. The teen’s parents, on behalf of their son, also dropped their civil suit against the two Jewish brothers. Victims sometimes drop civil cases and attempt to drop criminal cases, when there has been some type of agreement reached between the parties. There is no indication of that happening in this case, but it is often the situation. Only the prosecutor can choose to drop a criminal case.
The trial took one week to try before Judge White. At the conclusion of the trial, the judge found Eliyahu guilty of false imprisonment and second-degree assault, and cleared him of carrying a deadly weapon with intent to injure and Avi was acquitted of all three counts. The judge took a harsh tone in addressing the brothers and the testimony they offered in their behalf. She stated, “As I waited for straight answers, that wait proved thankless,” she said. Judge White also had harsh words for the Jewish neighborhood patrol group, Shomrim.
Eliyahu Werdesheim faces up to ten years in jail. And justice has been rendered in the case.
Debbie Hines is a lawyer, former Baltimore prosecutor and legal /political commentator appearing in national and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV, NPR, XM Sirius radio, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, Black Enterprise among others. She founded LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. She also writes for the Huffington Post.