Man found guilty of mur­der

Awaits sen­tenc­ing for stab­bing that killed Wal­dorf teen

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By AN­DREW RICHARD­SON arichard­son@somd­

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.

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