Man found guilty of murder
Awaits sentencing for stabbing that killed Waldorf teen
After a five-day bench trial in Charles County Circuit Court, a man accused of fatally stabbing a Waldorf teen last year was found guilty of second-degree murder.
Presiding over the trial of Shondell Javon Middleton, 19, of Clinton, N.C., was Judge Larnzell Martin Jr. of the Prince George’s Circuit Court, who found that Middleton
had not acted in self-defense when stabbing Jourdan Anthony Lucas, 18, in May 2015, but did not find sufficient evidence to support that the murder was premeditated, as was alleged.
Around 10:30 a.m. on May 7, 2015, deputies with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office responded to the 12300 block of Vivian Adams Drive in Waldorf for a reported assault, according to previous reports and court proceedings. Upon arrival, officers found Lucas suffering from multiple stab wounds, including a wound to his neck. First responders began rendering first aid, but by the time EMS personnel arrived on the scene, he had lost his pulse and paramedics attempted to resuscitate him with CPR. He was pronounced dead a short time later.
Lucas and two other men had showed up at the apartment where Middleton was staying to confront him about a drug theft earlier in the week in which Middleton and another man stole about half an ounce of marijuana from Lucas, court proceedings revealed. Middleton emerged from the apartment and began chasing Lucas, eventually catching him and stabbing him to death.
Throughout the trial, assistant state’s attorneys John Stackhouse and Jeremy Widder presented an abundance of evidence, including testimony from neighbors, two who witnessed the stabbing, others who were there that day, the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy, detectives and police officers, and a forensic scientist. Additionally, the prosecutors presented a surveillance video from the nearby leasing office. In the video, Middleton can be seen chasing Lucas down the street and lunging at him, causing him to stumble before leaving the view of the camera, according to court proceedings. Prosecutors said the footage corroborated the account given by an eyewitness who ran back inside the leasing office and said she had just seen a stabbing, a statement which was further supported by testimony from the property manager. Furthermore, the state presented photographs taken of an apparent blood trail which led, they said, from the site of the first stabbing to where Lucas’ body was found.
Days before the incident, on the evening of May 4, Lucas, his two friends and several other men had showed up at the apartment to confront Middleton about stealing the marijuana earlier that day, according to court proceedings. They wanted to fight him and another man that lived inside the apartment. The friends testified that Middleton and his brother, really a close family friend, could be seen taunting them by holding up the stolen marijuana as they smoked.
Lucas’ friends both testified that two cars filled with men arrived outside the complex on Lucas’ behalf. Now approximately 10 men were outside the apartment yelling and banging on the door, trying to get the two inside to come out to fight. Witnesses testified that Lucas wrapped his fist with his shirt and punched out a window of Middleton’s family car. The group also threw a fire extinguisher through the back windshield and later returned — after police had responded to the scene and since left — to spray paint the car and write expletives on the apartment door, according to proceedings.
A family friend who considers herself to be Middleton’s grandmother took the stand and said that after that incident they decided to buy a BB gun that resembled a real handgun in case the men came back again. “We just couldn’t believe the boys came and did this,” she said. “We were terrified; we didn’t know what was going to happen next.”
On the morning of May 7, she and her daughter were at work when Middleton called to tell them that the group of men were back and harassing him, according to court proceedings. He was alone inside the apartment as they yelled at him to come out. Lucas had wanted to fight Middleton one-on-one, according to testimony from Lucas’ two friends.
As the trio waited outside for Middleton, the mother and grandmother arrived at the apartment, according to proceedings. The mother held the BB gun and began yelling at the three outside, asking if they were the ones who had vandalized their property. The grandmother testified that her daughter yelled “Shondell,” and Middleton burst out of the apartment, and that’s when Lucas and the friends began to run in different directions. Middleton then chased Lucas as the other two went through the complex and down the adjacent, parallel street.
A bystander who had been at the nearby leasing office testified she saw two men running, and saw one of them stab the other before the two disappeared around the corner, according to proceedings. Another woman testified that when looking out her window, she could see one man straddling the other and repeatedly striking him.
As one of Lucas’ friends reached the end of the street, he testified that he saw Lucas and Middleton in a violent struggle. He said he saw Middleton striking Lucas several times. “I ran closer and that’s when I saw blood and a knife fall,” he testified. “… As they fell, the knife fell too.”
He said that Middleton was on top of Lucas when he tried to kick Middleton in the head but missed. Middleton then grabbed the knife again, he testified, and pointed it at him. Middleton’s mother then came and pointed what was perceived to be a real gun at him and said, “Get away from my baby; you’re not going to hurt my baby.” So, he left and came back shortly after to find Lucas suffering from multiple stab wounds. He and the other friend stayed with him as police and EMS arrived on the scene.
During cross examination of Lucas’ friends, defense attorney James Papirmeister emphasized that they had been at the apartment for “vengeance” and read a series of text messages that demonstrated the group had been talking about fighting Middleton and his brother throughout the week leading up to the incident. He also pointed out that the two men had lied repeatedly to detectives when they were questioned about the incident, though they said they only lied at first to minimize their involvement because they were scared, as they had been handcuffed and read their Miranda rights.
Detectives and the responding officers were also called to testify. According to their testimonies and evidence presented in court, they found Middleton’s blood-covered shirt and a knife in the bathroom of the apartment. During a video recorded interview at the police station, and before he knew that Lucas had died, Middleton waived his right to an attorney and spoke with Det. John Elliot. “They’ve just been antagonizing us,” he said, telling him about the vandalism and harassment. “They were ruthless that night. Cops came like five times and they didn’t care at all.”
Papirmeister had argued, and Middleton had testified, that he never intended to use the knife against Lucas — that the blade was only unfolded when one of Lucas’ friends attempted to kick him in the head as they wrestled on the street. “I just remember just swinging,” he said when asked under cross examination if he remembered stabbing Lucas. “I blacked out … I was just swinging.”
Earlier in the trial, the state had called the assistant medical examiner who conducted the autopsy to testify. She said that Lucas had died of “multiple sharp force injuries,” and that the manner of death was ruled a homicide. The most severe injury was a stab wound to his neck, which cut two and three quarter inches deep and had severed an artery, and a stab wound to the back of his head, which fractured his skull, according to proceedings. Of the six sharp force injuries, these two were the most severe. She also found a cut on Lucas’ finger which would be “consistent with what we call ‘defensive-type wounds,’” she said.
After closing arguments were presented, Judge Martin reviewed the evidence for about two hours before returning his verdict around 3:30 p.m. on Friday. Middleton’s $500,000 bond
was revoked, and he was taken into custody to await sentencing.
“Two young men lost their lives,” said Lucas’ father outside the courthouse. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
A trial date for the woman considering herself to be Middleton’s mother, Pamela Evette Caldwell, 37, of Waldorf, is scheduled for Oct. 17, court records indicate. She was also charged with first-degree murder in an indictment following the death of Lucas, and is currently out on a $150,000 bond.