Seven suspects stood behind security glass in the defendants’ dock at Dorchester Municipal Court today, wearing hoodies and sweatshirts, expressionless as a prosecutor described their alleged crimes: The young men and two juveniles -- what authorities described as a mob of nine -- allegedly beat and kicked a developmentally disabled teenager in broad daylight on a busy street in Dorchester.
They left him bloodied and screaming for help, the prosecutor said.
''A crime like this just shocks the conscience,'' Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said in a statement. "It’s obscene."
Each suspect denied being involved in the alleged attack, pleading not guilty today as they were accused of assaulting a disabled person. Some even suggested they had tried to help the victim, a 19-year-old from Mattapan whom they knew. He was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
A man who called police as he witnessed the attack shortly before 5 p.m. Monday on Parkman Street said he was working in his back yard when he heard a "God-awful scream.
''They were kicking and punching him. It was terrible. He was screaming and," said the witness, who asked not to identified, because some of the suspects are his neighbors.
The witness added that he watched as at least seven cars passed by as the violence ensued. "Not one of them even blew the horn," he said. "It’s really sad. It’s like they didn’t want to get involved, but I understand. People get hurt for getting involved in this neighborhood."
In court today, the defendants’ lawyers denied their clients were involved.
The defendants, each accused of assault and battery and assault and battery on a retarded person, were identified as Jahsia Solomon, 17, of Roxbury; and Trevon Campbell, 17; Johnny Clark, Jr., 20; Dillon Copeland, 17; Markees Finklea-Sonlyen, 17; Stephen Goss, 18; and Aldane Hall, 21, all of Dorchester. Two juveniles from Dorchester, ages 15 and 16, whose names were not released, were arraigned on similar charges in juvenile court.
The victim could not be reached.
The lawyers said none of the accused has criminal records and described their clients as good kids.
Emmet Folgert, executive director of the Dorchester Youth Collaborative, said he knows most of the accused and questioned whether they were capable of such a crime. He said Clark, who has worked for him as a basketball coach for more than a year, has been suspended.
Folgert said he had heard there was a fight between the younger boys -- and the victim -- and that some of the older defendants had sought to break it up.
“What I can say about Johnny [Clark] is that he’s very reliable, an excellent employee, and there hasn't been any complaints about him,” Folgert said. “I think what will come out soon is that the facts are going to change.”
Prosecutors said they could not explain how the brawl began.
The victim, whom police described as “mentally challenged” or "of diminished mental capacity,” had difficulty explaining what happened, but he got it across “the kids up the street had jumped him … [and] stated that he had known the suspects from the [Dorchester Youth Collaborative], and they did not like him,” according to the report.
Also according to the report, the witness told officers that he saw 10 black males ages 18-20 years old “laying the boots to him.”
At the arraignment, Judge Robert Baylor set bail at $500 cash for each of the adult defendants, half of what prosecutors had sought. Baylor also ordered them to stay away from one another and from the park where the alleged attack took place.
The 16-year-old juvenile also was held on $500 cash bail. The other juvenile was released to his mother, prosecutors said.
David Abel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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