NORTH EAST — A 16-year-old boy who beat a homeless man outside a North East-area liquor store – an attack that was videotaped by one of his three companions and then posted on Snapchat – has received a suspended eight-year sentence after accepting a binding plea deal, according to court records.
Cecil County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Keith A. Baynes imposed the eight-year sentence on the defendant, Antonio Lawrence Borom, of North East, and then suspended all but the time that he had served as a pretrial inmate – approximately nine months – after his arrest in mid-November.
Baynes then ordered Borom to serve three years of supervised probation. Should he violate his probation, Borom would face all or part of the eight-year sentence that had been suspended.
Borom, who had been held without bond in the Wicomico County Detention Center, which has a wing designated for juveniles charged as adults, was released from custody shortly after the sentence hearing on July 21, court records show.
Steven Barlow, a Cecil County State’s Attorney’s Office investigator and spokesman, told the Cecil Whig that the victim approved of the binding plea deal that prosecutors offered Borom.
Moreover, the victim – a key state witness in the case — indicated that he would not cooperate if prosecutors tried Borom and that he would not approve of any plea deal that included additional active incarceration for Borom, Barlow reported.
“He didn’t want to see him (Borom) serve any more time then he already had,” Barlow said, adding that Borom’s young age was a consideration in the victim’s decision.
The sentence that Baynes imposed on Borom reflects the terms of the binding plea agreement negotiated by Assistant State’s Attorney Denise Lee Williams and Assistant Public Defender Melissa Anne Ricke, who represented Borom.
As part of the binding plea deal, Borom pleaded guilty to first-degree assault, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison. In exchange, prosecutors dismissed related misdemeanor charges of second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and disorderly conduct.
Court records indicate that the 8-second-long video of the attack, which occurred on Oct. 1 outside Howard’s Market on Mauldin Avenue, helped investigators identify Borom as one of the suspects after it was posted on social media.
The video shows Borom “stomping and kicking” the prone 55-year-old man, who sought medical attention on his own, after refusing it at the scene, and made arrangements to live with a relative in the wake of the incident, according to court records.
At one point in the footage, Borom kicks the unconscious man in the side of his head.
In addition, the video shows two of Borom’s companions, ages 16 and 15 at the time, attacking the man, too, court records show. The older of those two teens also kicked the unconscious man in the head, prosecutors reported.
Those two teens and the 15-year-old boy who reportedly videotaped the incident with a cell phone camera were referred to Cecil County Department of Juvenile Services. Information concerning juvenile court cases is not public record.
Borom, who turns 17 in August, was charged as an adult in a Cecil County grand jury indictment handed up on Nov. 13, a day before investigators arrested him.
(Under state law, a minor who is at least 16 years old and is accused of committing certain serious offenses, including murder, rape and first-degree assault, can be charged as an adult and he or she can be incarcerated in a detention center, instead of a juvenile hall.)
A motive for the attack, which appears to be a random act, has not been released.
In November, while successfully arguing against Borom’s pre-trial release during a bail review hearing, then-Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Olin reported that Borom had an extensive juvenile record marked by violent crimes and that he had violated electronic monitoring in one of his juvenile assault cases by leaving his North East-area residence without permission.
At one point during that hearing, Olin referred to the footage and outlined, “(Borom) hits and kicks the subject while he is unconscious . . . Then (the video) is put on Snapchat — like it was a badge of glory, something he should be proud of.”
Olin also remarked, “The best way to see his propensity for violence is to watch the video. It’s the best evidence to see his propensity for violence. He is a significant danger to public safety.”
Borom’s then-public defender, Gary Brown, countered that, despite the serious criminal charges against his client, Borom was only 16 years old and that he has “a lot of life left” in which he could make positive changes.
Court records indicate that Maryland State Police detectives started their investigation on Oct. 1, after a patron in the drive-thru lane at a McDonald’s adjacent to Howard’s Market saw, from a distance, what appeared to be a group of people beating someone and called 911.
The suspects were gone when investigators arrived.
A day later, however, MSP detectives caught a break in the case when school teachers and administrators at The Providence School, north of Elkton, where Borom was a student, saw the 8-second-long video of the beating that had been posted on Snapchat and recognized him, court records show.
Those school officials then notified Sr. Deputy Derek Minker of the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office, a school resource officer who was assigned to the Providence School, and he, in turn, contacted MSP detectives after learning that they were investigating an Oct. 1 beating outside Howard’s Market, according to court records.
That led to more investigation, which resulted in a decision to present the case against Borom to the grand jury and that panel, in turn, handed up the four-count indictment against him.