BALTIMORE – Baltimore County grand jurors this week indicted the four Baltimore teenagers accused in the death of Baltimore County police Officer Amy Caprio.
Dawnta Harris, 16, Darrell Jaymar Ward, 15, Derrick Eugene Matthews, 16, and Eugene Robert Genius IV, 17, each face charges of first-degree murder, burglary and other violations in the indictments made public Wednesday, reported CBS Baltimore.
The murder charge alone carries a maximum penalty of life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Harris is accused of running Caprio over with a stolen Jeep on May 21. According to police, Ward, Matthews and Genius were burglarizing a nearby home. Caprio, 29, died at an area hospital a short time later.
The indictments move the case from district court, where charges were filed against the teens, to circuit court, which generally handles more serious criminal cases.
Prosecutors contend in the indictments that on the day the officer was killed, the teens went to three houses in the Perry Hall and Parkville areas, broke into two and took items from all three, including a Heckler & Koch 9mm handgun, two 15-round magazines, an Xbox, a box of dishes, and some Cool Ranch Doritos and Cheetos.
Prosecutors say the teens broke into a house on Linwen Way, took the gun, the ammunition, an Apple watch, an HP laptop, the Xbox, Alexa speakers and two backpacks at a total value of about $3,000.
Law enforcement authorities say Ward, Matthews and Genius went into the home and took the items while Harris waited in the Jeep.
Moreover, prosecutors say the teens went to a home on Northwind Road and took a Kindle Fire, three bottles of alcohol, a brass candlestick holder, Doritos and Cheetos at a total value of $250.
They say the teens took a box of dishes from the porch of a home on Ardmore Avenue in Parkville at a value of less than $100.
They say the teens stole the Jeep Wrangler and a Maryland license plate from another victim.
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Warren Brown, an attorney representing Harris, said his client did not intend to harm Caprio, but he panicked and attempted to drive away.
“They are moving with great haste and that’s okay with us,” Brown said.
He says though unusual to see an indictment this early in the case, it does mean sooner access to evidence — including the possibility of Officer Caprio’s police body camera footage.
“The body camera is going to be important, the autopsy is going to be important, my client’s statement is going to be important, DNA associated with the vehicle is going to be important,” Brown said.
Gayle Robinson, the deputy district public defender in Baltimore County who appeared at bail review hearings for two of the teens, did not return requests for comment, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The state’s attorney’s office declined to comment on the indictments. The office said in a statement Wednesday that it is “committed to assuring that each of the charged defendants and the citizens of this state, including the family of Officer Caprio, receive a fair and just trial.”
According to the Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office, under Maryland law, if an individual is involved in the commission of a burglary and a person is killed during the commission of that offense, then the individual has committed a first-degree murder, reported WBALTV.
Police say they arrested Harris a short time after the confrontation with Caprio. Ward, Matthews and Genius were arrested the following day at two homes in East Baltimore. All four teens are held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center.
All four are charged with first-degree murder in Caprio’s death. Police say Ward, Matthews and Genius were inside the home when Harris reportedly ran over the officer.
Each of the teens is now charged with first-degree murder, seven counts of first-, third- and fourth-degree burglary, two counts of conspiracy to commit burglary, five counts of theft, and four firearms charges related to the stolen Heckler & Koch handgun.
Legal expert Adam Ruther says in Maryland, the murder charges in this case can apply to all four teens.
“If you’re involved with other people in the commission of a felony and someone dies while you’re committing that felony, then you can be culpable for murder just as if you committed a premeditated act,” he explains.
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