A Baltimore judge on Monday sentenced a teenager to 15 years in prison for fatally shooting a man who confronted his group of downtown janitors with a baseball bat in 2022.
Circuit Judge Jennifer B. Schiffer suspended an additional 20 years of incarceration and ordered five years of supervised probation upon the 16-year-old’s release.
Before imposing the punishment, Schiffer denied a request by the teen’s attorneys to sentence him to the custody of the Maryland Department of Youth Services. That agency loses jurisdiction over a person once he turns 21, which Schiffer said was “unacceptable” given the facts of the fatal shooting.
Instead, he recommended the teen for the Patuxent Youth Program, a treatment program at a maximum security prison that helps address issues that may have led a person to commit a crime. That program, which is part of the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, cannot accept someone until they turn 18. That means the 16-year-old will remain in the Juvenile Detention Center in Baltimore for about two more years.
Schiffer said his decision recognized two realities: His ruling could not bring back Timothy Reynolds, the 48-year-old man who was shot to death at the intersection of East Conway and Light streets, and that no matter what sentence he imposed, the maximum allowed by law was 35 years: the teenager who shot him dead would be released into the community.
“There are no winners here,” Schiffer said.
The Baltimore Sun is not identifying the teen because of his age.
The punishment came at the end of a tense and emotional hearing that lasted nearly five hours and struck a balance between requests from prosecutors, who asked for the maximum sentence, and defense attorneys, who argued for a few years in prison. for your client. In Maryland, people convicted of felonies are eligible for parole after serving 50% of the sentence.
After a three-day trial in July, a jury found the teen guilty of voluntary manslaughterusing a firearm in the commission of a violent crime and handling a short weapon while a minor.
The panel acquitted the teen of first- and second-degree murder and found his actions were somehow justified by self-defense or defense of others. If the teen, who was 14 when he shot Reynolds and turned 15 the next day, had been charged only with the crimes for which he was convicted, his case would never have reached adult court.
Cameras captured much of the deadly encounter on the afternoon of July 7, 2022, at the bustling downtown intersection adjacent to the Inner Harbor. Prosecutors played the video during the trial.
Footage showed window cleaners weaving in and out of traffic looking for customers long before Reynolds stopped at the traffic light in a Volkswagen SUV. The accused teen leaned against Reynolds’ car shortly after his arrival.
As Reynolds drove away when the light turned green, the teen, who was wearing a pink shirt, ran to grab a cross-body bag that was on the sidewalk. Police later recovered a gun from the bag.
Reynolds drove through the intersection, parked, removed a metal bat from his car and walked across approximately 10 lanes of traffic to confront the teens.
After back-and-forth attacks, Reynolds swung the bat in the direction of a squeegee worker. Around the same time, another worker threw an object at Reynolds, hitting him in the head. He seemed to stumble. That’s when the teen shot Reynolds five times, hitting Reynolds’ face, neck and back. The husband and father of three died in a hospital.
“My heart goes out to the family of Timothy Reynolds,” Schiffer said before announcing the sentence. “I realize your pain is unfathomable.”
Reynolds’ family members testified in court Monday about the impact of his loss on their lives. They remember him as a loving father, brother, son, friend and community member. Infectiously funny and smart, he loved Baltimore sports and was a nerd for Marvel comics and the card game Magic: The Gathering, family members said.
Reynolds’ widow, Shannon, said his children would feel his absence at baseball games, college graduations and family dinners.
“There’s a glaring void for these kids,” Shannon Reynolds said.
The youngest was “sad most of the time” and had changed after her father’s murder.
“He is terrified of leaving me and misses Dad so much that sometimes he has a hard time getting out of bed,” she said.
Shannon Reynolds said she developed “extreme anxiety”, suffering short-term memory loss and panic attacks sometimes triggered by loud noises. She remembered the quiet joy of lying in bed with her husband the night before the shooting listening to the music, replaced by the chaos of learning of her death and informing the children and other family members.
“He was everything to me,” she said. “I was supposed to grow old with him.”
Reynolds said he believed there was no justification for the teen’s actions and said he “came out well at trial.” She pointed to evidence of premeditation that prosecutors cited in greater detail.
The teen grabbed the gun bag before Reynolds confronted the group of sanitation workers. He pulled a balaclava over his face before opening fire. He got rid of the gun and the pink T-shirt he was wearing during the shooting.
Assistant State’s Attorney Cynthia Banks said she watched video of the shooting “over and over and over” in hopes of finding an explanation. Instead of justification, she found facts that affirmed her office’s decision to file murder charges against the teen.
“You did not have to do it. You didn’t do it, but you chose to do it,” Banks said of the teen, asking Schiffer for a sentence that would provide the “impact, consequences and accountability of a murder.”
Referring to defense comments that Reynolds instigated the violence, Banks said he “paid with his life to get out of that car with a baseball bat.”
Banks presented as evidence a report from investigators with the Baltimore Police Department’s gang unit, who reviewed photos on the teen’s phone and concluded he was a member of the Crips gang. He also filed three violation reports at the detention center where the teen was held based on altercations.
Across the law table, the teen’s attorneys highlighted how his grades had improved dramatically during incarceration and touted the treatment potentially available through youth services, which evaluated the teen before a hearing in November to determine whether he would be tried as an adult or juvenile court.
According to a Department of Youth Services report, the teen witnessed the murder of a friend, lived much of his life with his imprisoned father and struggled with truancy. Department psychologists found that the teen would benefit from his programs, including individual therapy, possible medication assistance and continuing education.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to rule it out to improve public safety. I say adopt him,” said defense attorney Warren Brown.
Brown maintained that the shooting was not a “senseless” act of violence.
“There’s a reason this happened,” Brown said. “He’s a kid and he’s facing a fucking man with a baseball bat.”
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Brown and co-counsel J. Wyndal Gordon said after court that they believed Schiffer imposed a fair sentence, while they planned to appeal Circuit Judge Charles Dorsey’s ruling by keeping the case in adult court.
During the hearing, the teen’s grandmother, Tonia McClain, told Schiffer that she was shocked that he was being portrayed as a “threat” or a “beast.”
“You can teach him,” McClain said.
Attorneys read aloud statements from the teen’s mother and mentor before giving their client a final chance to address the judge.
“To the Reynolds family, I am sorry for your loss and I send you my deepest condolences,” the teenager said.
He added that he had worked to develop healthy habits while incarcerated in hopes of reversing the course of his life. Regardless of the judge’s ruling, he said, he wanted to serve as an example of “true change” and help others in the future.
“Although there is no turning back time,” he said, “I am determined to change my life.”