Judge To Rule On Neighborhood Watch Trial; Brother Says Beating Was ‘Self-Defense’
BALTIMORE (WJZ)– It’s now up to a judge. Was it self-defense or a brutal attack? After days of testimony, one of the brothers takes the stand. The suspect tells a judge the teen attacked first.
Weijia Jiang has more from the defense’s star witness.
Eliyahu Werdesheim, 24, was on the stand for several hours on Wednesday, and then the lawyers presented the closing arguments. Both sides agree this was a neighborhood watch gone wrong but both sides also say that they are the victims.
Werdesheim has never denied hitting Corey Ausby, 16, but he has always said it happened in self-defense, exactly what he spent hours testifying.
“It’s going as planned and we look forward to wrapping up the trial today,” Andrew Alperstein, Eliyahu Werdesheim’s attorney, said.
Werdesheim said in November 2010, he and his 22-year-old brother Avi– who is also charged in the case– were responding to a call for Shomrim, an orthodox Jewish watch group.
He admits to following Ausby, who was on foot, in his car. He said the teen was peering into homes and looking for unlocked vehicles.
Werdesheim testified that Avi then told Ausby: “You don’t belong around here. You belong in school.”
He said that’s when Ausby got upset and retrieved a wooden plank with a nail protruding out of it from a nearby house.
Werdesheim said he got out of the car to calm Ausby down, referring to his unique negotiating skills as a soldier for the Israeli Army’s special forces. But Werdesheim said Ausby charged at him with a stick.
He said: “He was on me very, very quickly. I had no time to think. I deflected his right hand with my left hand. I pulled down his left hand and hit him with my right hand, which still had my Shomrim radio in it.”
“I think he’s lying. Clearly,” Kingi Scott, a spectator at the trial, said.
Community activists believe prosecutors, who say the brothers targeted Ausby, pushed and pinned him to the ground and beat him repeatedly with a walkie-talkie.
“He’s still trying to evade justice and he’s clearly lying,” Scott said. “That’s what frustrates me. It frustrates me that people who are associated with Shomrim have given an entirely different story.”
The only other person who knows what happened is Ausby, and he refused to testify. So the judge must make a ruling without their stories. The state is now relying heavily on 911 tapes and testimony from secondary witnesses which the judge has already called inconsistent and contradictory. The judge said she will have a decision by Thursday afternoon.
The judge will make the ruling because there is no jury in this case.