Convicted on an assault charge, a former neighborhood watch member was recently handed a sentence of three years probation, far short of the ten years of prison time he faced for a November 2010 attack on a black teenager.
The Baltimore pre-law student’s defense consisted in part of members of his community speaking up for his character in order to combat the assault and false imprisonment charges. Despite those testimonies, the recent verdict stirs debate within the community.
This assault case brings up similar themes as the current Trayvon Martin case. Some in the community believe that the attack against the black teenager in this Baltimore incident was fueled by racism, while the light sentence was fueled by classism and racism as well. Along with probation, the defendant was sentenced to research and write essays about diversity in Baltimore.
Justice is rarely a simple matter. A community will form its opinions regarding criminal cases and wrongly expect that the court will rule in line with that opinion. But it is up to the criminal court to see through the passions and emotions and look only at the evidence presented during the trial.
Even though the sentencing has caused some within the Baltimore community to doubt the legitimacy of the court, the judge stands behind her decision to forego prison in her sentencing. She believes that diversity education will do more good than incarceration would in this case.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Three years of probation, no prison in Werdesheim case,” Yvonne Wenger and Colin Campbell, June 27, 2012
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