A Prince George's County prosecutor urged a Circuit Court jury yesterday to hold a 14-year-old defendant accountable in the slaying of a pizza deliveryman last February by convicting the teenager of first-degree felony murder.
Acknowledging the difficulty some jurors may have in convicting someone so young of such a serious crime, Assistant State's Attorney William M. Manico told jurors during his closing argument that it is their duty to hold Travis Lionel Savoy accountable for the Feb. 17 slaying of Peruvian immigrant Javier Eduardo Castillo, 33.
"The community looks to you to see that justice is served," Manico told jurors. He argued that Savoy killed Castillo during a robbery and should be convicted of first-degree felony murder (a slaying committed in the commission of a felony). Manico told them that whether the teenager intended to kill his victim is irrelevant under the law.
The jury hearing the case will begin deliberating this morning.
Savoy, believed to be the youngest person ever charged with first-degree murder in Prince George's County, allegedly killed two people in his Bladensburg neighborhood this year--a fellow high school student and Castillo.
Savoy is charged with first-degree murder in the fatal shooting in January of Dominick Elliout Hiers, 16, of Cheverly. His trial in Hiers's death is scheduled to begin when his current trial ends.
According to court documents supporting charges against him, prosecutors have said that Castillo gave police statements admitting to both killings.
Savoy's attorney, Antoini M. Jones, told jurors in his closing argument that Savoy was a drug dealer and "will never win the award for child of the year." Jones attacked the investigation by county homicide detectives, telling jurors that police decided early on that Savoy was the culprit and wore "blinders" that prevented them from considering other possible suspects.
Repeating the theory he has advanced throughout the four-day trial, Jones told jurors that evidence showed Savoy agreed to admit to the killing to help a 19-year-old acquaintance.
Jones told the jury that because of his age, Savoy believed he would be charged as a juvenile and not face a lengthy prison sentence, while the older teenager, Melvin J. Bryant, faced a parole violation and possible life in prison.
According to testimony before Judge Graydon S. McKee III, Castillo delivered a pizza to the Bladensburg apartment where Bryant lived with his family about 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 17. Savoy, Bryant's girlfriend, Sherri Canaday, 19, and a friend of Savoy's, Edward Marshall Sinclair, 16, were in the apartment when the delivery was made, according to testimony.
Sinclair and Canaday testified that after Castillo delivered the pizza, Savoy asked whether the deliveryman carried much money, then followed him out to his car. Shortly thereafter, Sinclair and Canaday testified, they heard a gunshot, then Savoy ran into the apartment and said he had shot the deliveryman by accident.
Canaday testified that Savoy took some pizza and quickly left.
Prosecutor Manico yesterday discounted Jones's assertions of a conspiracy to have Savoy take the blame for Bryant.
"There were no eyewitnesses to the shooting," Manico said. "Why concoct a plan to have anyone take the fall? Why not just say you don't know who did the shooting?"