Man sen­tenced for fa­tal stab­bing

Found guilty of mur­der af­ter trial

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

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.

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