Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Pamela J. White convicted Eliyahu Werdesheim, one of the two brothers accused of assaulting a teenager in Northwest Baltimore, of false imprisonment and second degree assault Thursday afternoon, following a week-long trial. The second brother, Avi, was cleared of all charges.
Eliyahu Werdesheim, 24, and his brother Avi Werdesheim, 22, were charged with second-degree assault, false imprisonment and carrying a deadly weapon — a walkie-talkie issued by a neighborhood watch group — with the intent to injure. Eliyahu Werdesheim was cleared of the weapons charge. His sentencing is scheduled for June 27.
Speaking about Eliyahu, Judge White said, “He relied on his military training to take Ausby down.”
“I also find that the contact was not legally justified.”
The state argued that the Werdesheim brothers intimidated Corey Ausby, 16, as he walked down a residential street in Park Heights to a bus stop, causing the teen to pull a nail-studded board from a construction site. In response, the brothers surrounded the teen, struck him in the head with a walkie-talkie and held him on the ground, Assistant State’s Attorney Kevin Wiggins told White during the trial.
There’s no question that the elder brother, Eliyahu, was a member of Shomrim, an Orthodox Jewish citizens’ watch group, on Nov. 19, 2010, when he and his brother responded to a suspicious-person call that came over the walkie-talkie. The brothers were in Eliyahu’s car, on their way home between noon and 1 p.m., when Eliyahu decided to look for the suspect in the 3200 block of Fallstaff Road.
Defense attorneys argued that when the Werdesheims arrived on the scene, they witnessed Ausby looking in the windows of homes and pulling on the handle of an SUV’s passenger door.
As any neighborhood watch member would, Eliyahu began following and watching Ausby from his car, according to his attorney, Andrew I. Alperstein. Avi was not a Shomrim member and just happened to be in the car with his brother at the time of the incident, said Susan R. Green, the younger Werdesheim’s attorney.
Both sides agree that the brothers got out of the car and spoke to Ausby after they watched him for a while. What was said during that conversation is contested.
Though the brothers were not charged with a hate crime, Wiggins argued that the white, Jewish men told the black, male teen — a “child,” according to the prosecutor — that he was not welcome in the neighborhood. The defendants argued that any statement made to Ausby that he didn’t “belong around here,” according to police charging documents, was made because it was the middle of a school day and the teen should have been in class.
Regardless of what was said, both the state and defense believe that the conversation came to an end and Ausby walked over to a construction site, broke a board off of a wooden pallet and began carrying it with him down the street. Ausby was walking away from the brothers, who continued to watch him from inside Eliyahu’s car.
After a short time passed, the older Werdesheim got out of the car again. What happened then was the crux of the case.