A Prince George's County grand jury yesterday indicted a Suitland youth on murder and other charges in connection with an attack in which a high school student was beaten outside a 7-Eleven and left incapacitated on a busy roadway, where he was run over by two motorists and killed.
Emmanuel A. McClain, 16, was indicted on charges of murder, robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery and common law riot. McClain is charged with the early morning attack May 30 that led to the death of Michael A. Bassett, 18.
According to police and prosecutors, Bassett's offer to buy a girl a Slurpee outside the 7-Eleven in Suitland enraged McClain. He hit Bassett and, with as many as seven other youths, chased the victim into the 5200 block of Silver Hill Road.
The beginning of the attack was captured by 7-Eleven surveillance cameras.
Two friends who were with Bassett escaped unharmed. Someone fired shots, apparently at Bassett, but missed, officials said. Bassett was beaten, kicked and left on the busy roadway, police and prosecutors allege. Two motorists ran over Bassett, authorities said. The motorists stopped and called authorities, and there is no indication that they meant to hit Bassett, officials said.
McClain was arrested June 2 and charged as an adult. A second suspect, James Jarrell White, 18, of Southeast Washington also has been charged with murder. Like McClain, he is being held without bond.
Ivey said prosecutors have had discussions with a lawyer representing a third possible suspect. "We haven't decided what to do with that case," Ivey said.
Initially, police said they could not say whether Bassett was beaten to death or killed by the vehicles that ran over him.
Yesterday, police said the state medical examiner's office has determined that Bassett's death was caused by multiple injuries from being run over.
"We were certainly pleased the grand jury came back with the murder indictment," said State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey. "Certainly, this was just a tragic killing. Our heart goes out to Mr. Bassett's friends and family."
McClain's attorney, Antoini M. Jones, said police and prosecutors are "rushing to judgment."
"My client had a minor role," Jones said. "They have the wrong person."
Jones said he believes McClain, who turned 16 a few days after the assault, should be tried in juvenile court.
McClain was indicted under the general murder statute, which includes first- and second-degree murder, felony murder (a slaying committed during the commission of another crime) and manslaughter charges.
If the case goes to trial, prosecutors can present evidence to try to support one or more of the specific charges, legal experts said.
For example, prosecutors could try to prove that Bassett was killed during a robbery, which could be felony murder. The trial judge would determine whether prosecutors have presented sufficient evidence for the jury to consider a specific charge, legal experts said.
Prosecutors could also argue that beating someone and leaving him incapacitated on a dark street is murder, said Robert C. Bonsib, a Greenbelt defense lawyer and former deputy state's attorney in Prince George's.
"If you put an unconscious person on a train track and the train runs him over and kills him, that's murder," Bonsib said.