Two men were found not guilty by a Prince George's County jury last night of murdering and trying to rob a Forestville High School student in October.
After deliberating for seven hours, the Circuit Court jury acquitted Joseph T. Banks and Napoleon Jordan Jr. in the death of 17-year-old Dwayne Satterwhite of Largo, who collapsed in front of the school on Beltz Drive after he was shot once in the chest by a gunman in a school hallway.
Banks, 17, of 1213 Capitol View Dr., Landover, who was tried as an adult, and Jordan, 19, of 7620 Burnside Rd., Palmer Park, testified at their trial that they saw Kevin Wilkerson -- a third person charged in the case -- point a gun at Satterwhite and urged Wilkerson to put the gun down. They said Wilkerson ignored their pleas and shot Satterwhite as he turned to run away.
Jordan, Banks and Wilkerson had gone to Forestville High School, according to testimony by Jordan and Banks, so that Jordan could talk to a former shop teacher about finding weekend jobs. Jordan and Banks testified that they did not know that Wilkerson, 20, who lives at 7712 Greymont St., Palmer Park, had a .38-caliber handgun with him or that he planned to rob Satterwhite.
Assistant State's Attorney Bond Rhue did not dispute that part of their testimony. Both prosecutors and police allege that Wilkerson -- who will be tried separately -- fired the fatal shot and are seeking the death penalty against him. But in his closing argument, Rhue told the jury that the shooting was unexpected, not the attempted robbery.
"They had not planned to kill Dwayne Satterwhite," Rhue told the jury, "they had planned to rob somebody. Probably Mr. Jordan was as shocked as anybody that somebody was killed, but that doesn't relieve him of responsibility."
Jordan told police that Wilkerson had talked with him about committing a robbery at Parkdale High School the day before Satterwhite was killed. But Jordan testified that he didn't take Wilkerson seriously.
Attorneys for Jordan and Banks told the jury that it wouldn't make sense for Jordan, who was a 1984 graduate of Forestville, to go to a school where he is known, talk to the school's security officer, principal and several students and then try to rob a student.
Samuel Serio, Banks' attorney, said the prosecution had not offered any evidence that Banks, who had not met Wilkerson until the day of the shooting, knew what Wilkerson was planning to do. "Mr. Banks is a 17-year-old boy who ran from the scene of a heinous crime," Serio said. "The only evidence against him is that he fled."