Two teens accused of murdering teen in Baltimore plead not guilty

A young girl was shot to death in East Baltimore in August, but it wasn’t until two local teens turned themselves in that police named them as suspects. On Aug. 10, 30-year-old Brian Lee…

Two teens accused of murdering teen in Baltimore plead not guilty

A young girl was shot to death in East Baltimore in August, but it wasn’t until two local teens turned themselves in that police named them as suspects.

On Aug. 10, 30-year-old Brian Lee Jones called 911 to report an armed robbery in which he claimed his girlfriend had been shot. But as he told the dispatcher, “No, she’s fine,” a camera on the city’s Finest Unit picked up several images of a wounded woman. Her face, leg and head were clearly visible, as were two youths as she was laid out on the street.

“We need somebody to help me identify these people,” Jones said on the recording. “But somebody needs to give us the names of these people.”

More than a week later, police confirmed that the woman in Jones’ 911 call was dead. She was 16-year-old Shakola Jackson, who was struck four times in the head and torso.

Her injuries were so bad, family members said, that she would not regain consciousness. Her mother, Raymond Jackson, lost her children and fiancé in the same month. Shakola’s stepfather, Jerome Morris, said family members used to celebrate life together on Saturday, but after Jackson was killed, they vowed to share their good times instead.

Jackson’s mother died in 2014, but Jackson’s father, Allen Riggs, said they will never forget his daughter.

“It don’t make sense. Her life ended in a senseless murder,” he said. “Even people that’s not blessed to have a mother, a daughter, something to do with your family, that’s what we’re going to do.

At a news conference, Baltimore police Chief Kevin Davis said two teens had confessed to the shooting. Police are charging 18-year-old Jamar Lamon Williamson and 16-year-old Emanuel McGarrity, both of whom were 17 at the time, in Jackson’s murder. The two friends, both from Baltimore’s West Baltimore, also face charges of robbery, assault and reckless endangerment in a separate incident the same day. Police said Williams and McGarrity allegedly took $24 from a victim who was shot in the same area.

Williamson was denied bail when he appeared before a judge on Tuesday. McGarrity appeared at the same hearing, and after they were ordered held, Williamson’s mother leapt out of her seat at the defense table and screamed for her son. She allegedly threw up on the sidewalk, and then grabbed Williams and kicked him in the face.

Asked whether Jackson’s death was in part due to the failure of Jones to act on his belief in her well-being, Davis didn’t have an answer.

“That would be a speculation,” he said. “I could come up with a theory or a theory of how these decisions would be made, but that doesn’t take into account circumstances surrounding the decisions.”

Davis declined to discuss what a judge’s ruling on bail might have done to their plans. The judicial process works for everyone involved, he said.

“I would submit that it would not help us,” he said of the decision. “And we would be back to square one.”

Baltimore is still struggling to curb its spike in gun violence, and officials have, at times, struggled to explain what has plagued a city that has enjoyed dramatic declines in crime in recent years.

For years, mayors and police chiefs lamented lack of cooperation by crime suspects and victims, particularly in the wake of violence in 2015 and 2016. But local officials haven’t had much success thus far.

Baltimore recorded 40 homicides in July, just six days shy of the record high for killings in any month in the past decade. Davis said Monday that the pace of homicides has decreased significantly since. But it seems as if many of the city’s homicides this year have involved suspects who have only been charged after turning themselves in.

“It’s sort of not lost on me,” Davis said at the news conference announcing Williamson’s and McGarrity’s arrests. “On the other hand, if you find a kid hiding under a van, you’re not going to stop until the kid has been identified and brought to justice.”

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