Man sentenced for fatal stabbing
Found guilty of murder after trial
After he was found guilty of murder following a week-long bench trial in September, a man who fatally stabbed a Waldorf teen last year was sentenced Monday morning in Charles County Circuit Court.
Convicted of second-degree murder, Shondell Javon Middleton, 20, of Clinton, N.C., was sentenced to 30 years imprisonment with all but 12 years suspended by Judge Larnzell Martin Jr., a visiting judge 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 premed- itated, according to court proceedings. Additionally, a three year sentence will run concurrent for carry- ing a dangerous weapon with intent to injure.
Around 10:30 a.m. on May 7, 2015, deputies with the Charles County Sheriff’s Office respond- ed to the 12300 block of Vivian Adams Drive in Waldorf for a reported assault, according to previous reports and court proceedings. Upon arriv- al, officers found Lucas suffering from multiple stab wounds, including a wound to his neck and to the back of his head. First responders began rendering first aid, but by the time EMS person- nel 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.
Trial proceedings re- vealed that 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 marijua- na from Lucas. Middleton emerged from the apart- ment and began chasing Lucas, eventually catching him and stabbing him to death.
Days before the inci- dent, 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, an actual close family friend, could be seen taunting them by holding up the stolen mar- ijuana as they smoked.
Lucas’ friends both tes- tified that two cars filled with men arrived outside the complex on Lucas’ behalf. Now approximate- ly 10 men were outside the apartment yelling and banging on the door, try- ing to get the two inside to come out to fight. Wit- nesses 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 extin- guisher through the back windshield and later re- turned — after police had responded to the scene and since left — to spray paint the car and write ex- pletives on the apartment door, according to proceedings.
On May 7, the trio returned to the apartment after exchanging text messages with Middle- ton, and waited outside for him to come out, ac- cording to proceedings. As they waited, Middle- ton’s “play mother” and grandmother arrived at the apartment. The play mother, Pamela Caldwell, held a BB gun and began yelling at the three out- side, asking if they were the ones who had vandal- ized 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. Mid- dleton 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 leas- ing office testified she saw two men running, and saw one of them stab the oth- er before the two disap- peared 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. Then Caldwell arrived and pointed what was per- ceived to be a real gun at him and said, “Get away from my baby; you’re not going to hurt my baby.” He then left and came back shortly after to find Lucas suffering from mul- tiple stab wounds.
Before handing down his sentence on Monday morning, Martin had de- nied the defense’s motion for a new trial or a revised verdict of voluntary man- slaughter, rather than second-degree murder. Middleton’s defense attor- ney, James Papirmeister, argued that Middleton had acted in imperfect self-defense and that Mar- tin’s findings during the trial had supported this, according to proceedings. As Martin had delivered his verdict in September, he explained that imperfect self-defense did not apply to Middleton, who he believed may have had a subjective, but unrea- sonable, belief that he was defending himself, others, or habitation. Papirmeis- ter argued that because of Middleton’s subjective belief, and because he be- lieved Middleton was not the aggressor in the inci- dent, that supported the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, but Mar- tin ultimately denied the motion after hearing argument from assistant state’s attorney Jeremy Widder.
After the ruling came the sentencing.
“Jourdan is never com- ing back,” said assistant state’s attorney John Stackhouse, addressing the judge. “No matter what you do today, he is going to get out. Jourdan is gone forever.”
“I’ve never seen someone so nonchalant after committing a crime like that,” he added, referring to Middleton’s recorded interview with a detective. “… And one of the more chilling parts of this case is when we saw him act out the stabbing [during his trial testimony.]”
The prosecutors read an impact statement from Lucas’ mother, and his fa- ther addressed the court himself, asking for a max- imum sentence.
Stackhouse and Wid- der acknowledged the sentencing guidelines suggested a 12 to 20 year sentence, but asked for the maximum of 30 years.
Papirmeister asked Martin for a lenient, below-guidelines sentence, citing the 72 hours of continuous harassment and threats Middleton had endured before the violent culmination on May 7, 2015. He also argued on behalf of Middleton’s character and the numerous letters and statements given by family and friends on his behalf.
“He is so polite. He is so respectful,” he said of his experience with Middleton. “… He is not a killer. He is a kid who was reacting.”
Middleton also took his opportunity to address the court, looking toward the victim’s parents at times. “I would just like to say it burns my soul to know what I did to Jourdan,” he said. “I can only imagine what you go through everyday. It burns the core of my soul … and I’m just sorry; I’m just sorry.”
For her involvement in the incident, Caldwell pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree assault in October, and awaits sentencing, subject to up to 18 months imprisonment based on her plea agreement.