TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Two of the three teens convicted of burglary in connection with the death of Baltimore County Officer Amy Caprio were sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison in connection with Caprio’s death.
The teens — Derrick Matthews and Eugene Genius, who were 16 and 17 at the time of Caprio’s murder — were convicted of felony murder last May.
Matthews, who’s now 17, pleaded for leniency and cried in court Monday.
“To Officer Caprio’s family, I’m sorry for the loss of your loved one,” Matthews said to the judge.
Genius read a statement apologizing to Caprio’s family.
“I regret everything I’ve done to cause you any sort of pain. If I could take it all back, I would,” he told the Caprio family. “I just ask for forgiveness.”
Genius’ grandfather spoke to the media following his grandson’s sentencing, describing the teens as boys who made the wrong choices.
“I felt the fear in their body,” Pastor Eugene Genius II said outside the courthouse Monday.
He talked about how Matthews and his grandson were still growing and learning but acknowledged that their mistake led to the murder of Officer Caprio.
Genius said his grandson would not break into anyone’s home “and wouldn’t especially be involved in a murder” if he had to do it over again.
“It hurts my heart,” he said.
— Mike Hellgren (@HellgrenWJZ) September 16, 2019
Under Maryland’s long-standing felony murder law, accomplices can be held responsible for a killing they did not directly commit.
“Felony murder should be abolished in this state,“ said Matthews’ defense attorney William Buie.
But Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger defended the law and the sentence as fair.
“They understood exactly what they were pleading guilty to several months ago,” Shellenberger said. “Nobody does anything alone anymore. The felony murder crime and the way it’s used now is more important than ever, and this is a perfect example.”
Prosecutor Robin Coffin said in court, “This group engaged in utter lawlessness. Their participation in these crimes directly led to the death of Officer Caprio.”
She read Matthews’ lengthy criminal record that included assault, burglary, robbery with a weapon and a probation violation. Genius also had a prior record that included auto theft and burglary.
Coffin told the court Genius has had problems since his incarceration including allegations he incited a riot, smeared fecal matter in his cell and fought a correctional officer.
His defense attorney said that is because Genius is held with the adult population, unlike the others changed in this case.
The defense attorney played a video during the sentencing where loved ones, including Genius’ mother and father, an Army Staff Sergeant, spoke on his behalf.
It did not sway Judge Jan Alexander.
“He’s here because he was out of control,” Alexander said. “The behavior was outrageous to begin with. They should have been in school.”
Judge Alexander said what happened was “not a mistake. This was a conscious decision to commit crimes.”
Genius has since earned his high school diploma.
Both Matthews and Genius asked that they are placed in the youthful offenders program at Patuxent Institution.
Caprio’s family declined to comment today. At Harris’ sentencing last month, Caprio’s widow said he was still in pain and remembered her life. “She was selfless—the best person I ever knew,” Timothy Caprio said. He wept in court and told Judge Alexander how the killing “shattered my life.”
A third convicted teen, Darrell Ward, is scheduled to be sentenced on September 30.
The three teens pleaded guilty to murder after they burglarized a home on May 21, 2018.
While they were inside the home, Dawnta Harris fatally struck Officer Caprio with a stolen Jeep. Harris was sentenced to life in prison.
Ward also faces up to 30 years in prison.