Judge: Suspect in officer’s death a ‘one-man crime wave’

PERRY HALL, Md. (AP) — A 16-year-old charged with first-degree murder in the death of a Maryland police officer has been ordered held without bail by a judge who called him a “one-man crime wave.”

Dawnta Anthony Harris was supposed to be on house arrest and was still wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet when he ran down Baltimore County police Officer Amy Caprio with a stolen Jeep, authorities said Tuesday.

Authorities also anticipate bringing felony murder charges against three other teens who police say were burglarizing a nearby home while Harris waited in the car, according to Scott Shellenberger, the state’s attorney for Baltimore County.

“They are in for everything that occurs as a result of that burglary, including when their co-defendant is outside running over a police officer and killing her,” Shellenberger said.

Police expect to announce the charges against the three other teens— ages 15, 16, and 17 — on Wednesday morning, said Officer Jennifer Peach, a department spokeswoman. The three were taken into custody Tuesday but not immediately identified.

More than 20 police officers were in the courtroom when Harris, who is charged as an adult, made his first court appearance by video Tuesday.

Caprio was responding to a report of a suspicious vehicle.

The slain officer’s body camera footage clearly shows Harris accelerating the Jeep at her after she tried to apprehend him on the cul-de-sac in the suburban Perry Hall community northeast of Baltimore, prosecutor William Bickel said during the hearing.

“She fired her weapon. He ran over her,” Bickel said. Harris was apprehended shortly after abandoning the Jeep, which had been stolen May 18 in Baltimore, he said. According to probable cause statement, Harris admitted as much, telling a detective that he “drove at the officer.”

A yellow lockup jumpsuit appeared baggy on Harris’ slight 120-pound, 5-foot-7 frame during the hearing in Towson. When asked if he understood the charge he faces, Harris mumbled “yes” as he sat next to his public defender. The lawyer had requested Harris be sent to a juvenile lockup, but prosecutors noted his series of auto theft arrests and a repeated history of running away from juvenile facilities.

The ninth-grader was on house arrest at his mother’s West Baltimore home, but ran away May 14, they said.

“Your client is one-man crime wave,” Judge Sally Chester told the public defender and ordered Harris held at Baltimore County Detention Center, an adult lockup.

Sam Abed, the Maryland Secretary of Juvenile Services, said at a news conference that his department had made “many attempts” to contact Harris after he went missing from his mother’s house but was unsuccessful.

The ankle bracelet Harris was wearing Monday simply indicated whether he was inside or outside his home — it did not track his whereabouts, Shellenberger said.

“Did the system not work?” police Chief Terrence Sheridan said. “It sounds like … it could have worked better in this particular case.”

Caprio, who would have been on the force four years in July, was smart, athletic and energetic, just the type of officer you want to hire, Sheridan said. She and her husband were to start vacation this weekend to celebrate their third wedding anniversary and their upcoming birthdays, police said.

A medical examiner determined that she died of trauma to the head and torso, according to Sheridan.

The death stunned the quiet, residential neighborhood, said Baltimore County Councilman David Marks, who lives nearby.

“The community I represent stands united in grief for this fallen police officer, and our hope is that all those involved are brought to justice,” Marks said.

This article provided by NewsEdge.