TOWSON, Md. — The three teens accused of burglarizing houses when a Baltimore County Police Officer was struck and killed in a confrontation with their presumed get-away driver pleaded guilty.
Darrell Ward, 17, Euguene Genius IV, 19, and Derrick Matthews, 17, pleaded guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to felony murder charges. They face sentences of 30 years in prison.
Baltimore County Prosecutors and Police said Ward, Genius, and Matthews were burglarizing houses in Perry Hall as then 16-year-old Dawnta Harris operated a stolen Jeep the group was using to drive around the area and target homes. Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio was alerted of the reported burglaries and spotted the Jeep, pursuing it to a cul-de-sac where she attempted to make a stop. As the Jeep swung around the dead-end, Caprio exited her cruiser and drew her weapon, pointing it at the truck and demanding the driver to stop and exit the vehicle. In body-worn camera video from Caprio, the driver, Harris, can be seen opening the Jeep’s door before punching the gas and striking the officer. Caprio later died from injuries sustained in the incident.
Harris and the other teens were all charged with multiple counts in Caprio’s death, including felony murder, a state statute that says if a person commits a serious violent crime that results in death, that person and anyone else who perpetrated the crime can be charged with first-degree murder. Those charged with felony murder need only to be found guilty of committing the attached felony charge to be found guilty of the murder charge as well. Though police said the other teens were not in the car when it struck Caprio, they were all held responsible for her death.
Harris was found guilty of felony murder at his trial which concluded on May 1. He faces a potential life sentence. Ward, Genius, and Matthews would have faced a potential life sentence as well if they would have allowed their casesto go to trial and been convicted.