Conviction in Baltimore Shomrim attack case

By Jennifer Lipman, May 4, 2012

An Orthodox Jewish man from Baltimore accused of assaulting a black teenager 18 months ago has been convicted of false imprisonment and second-degree assault.

Eliyahu Werdesheim, 24, was on patrol for the Shomrim, a community neighbourhood watch group, when the 15-year-old was attacked.

The boy was allegedly thrown to the floor and hit repeatedly, and was later hospitalised. The brothers had claimed they were acting in self-defence and believed the boy to be carrying what appeared to be a board with nails attached

Avi Werdesheim, 22, who was also on trial over the incident, was exonerated, while his older brother was cleared of carrying a deadly weapon.

Eliyahu, who is married, could face a ten year jail sentence, which will be set at a hearing in June.

The judge rejected the self-defence claim on the basis that the teen had not had the opportunity to use the plank of wood he was carrying to attack either brother.

But he ruled that Avi Werdesheim, while present at the scene, did not physically hit him. The state attorney in the case, Gregg Bernstein, said the message for groups such as the Shomrim was that they should "be true partners and work with us and not against us".

The case has been compared in media reports to the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida in February, by a neighbourhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman.

Last updated: 10:39am, May 4 2012