Robert Brazell laughed and cried yesterday morning as he talked about the Mount Hebron High School field in Howard County where his teenage son played junior varsity football.
It was there, he said, that Robert Brazell Jr. was fatally hit in the head with a baseball bat just past midnight Saturday in a fight that involved about 20 teenagers.
"That's the thing that kills me, to know my son was struck at the 50-yard line and to remember how many times I watched him play there," the father said, his voice wavering, as he went to the hospital to see his son one last time.
While Robert Brazell Jr., 18, who had been declared brain-dead Sunday, was being taken off life support yesterday, a Howard County judge ordered that the teenager accused of delivering the fatal blow be held without bond. Kevin F. Klink, 18, participated in the bail review hearing by remote video link.
Klink's attorney, A. Donald C. Discepolo, said his client, a champion wrestler and recent graduate of Oakland Mills High School, had admitted striking someone during the melee but not necessarily Brazell.
"It was a huge fracas," Discepolo said, describing a scene of chaos and confusion. "It was at least 20 individuals, at midnight, on a football field."
Assistant State's Attorney Susan Weinstein said witnesses told authorities that Klink struck Brazell. "The state feels it is clear in this case that Mr. Klink is a threat to society," she said.
Judge Neil E. Axel remanded Klink without bail, noting that although his record was limited to probation for an alcohol-related driving offense, Klink allegedly left the fight after inflicting a fatal injury.
Police and school officials said they do not know what prompted the fight. One group was made up mostly of current and former Mount Hebron students; the other was mostly from Hammond High School in Columbia.
Police said that when they arrived at the school about 12:30 a.m., only the three people who were injured remained. Two of them, Jacob Sams and Evan Tubbs, both 17 and Hammond High students, lay near the parking lot at the front of Mount Hebron. Both have been released from the hospital; neither could be reached yesterday.
Authorities found Brazell, the most seriously injured, near the football field behind the school. He was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where doctors were unable to stop the bleeding in his brain.
Later Saturday, after the fight, Klink, a former regional wrestling champion, watched friends in a tournament at Atholton High School in Columbia.
Vince Taweel, a senior wrestler at Hammond High, said he talked to Klink there.
Klink "didn't seem like his normal self because he was a little quieter that usual," Taweel said.
At 5 p.m. Sunday, Brazell was declared brain-dead. Within hours, police had arrested Klink. According to police, witnesses said that Klink hit Brazell and that Klink confirmed in a police interview that he had hit someone in the head from behind.
Brazell and Klink didn't know each other, Brazell's father and stepmother said. Many of his friends visited Brazell as he lay unconscious in the hospital -- forming a line into the hallway -- but his parents did not press them for information about the fight.
"All I was told was that he was hit so hard the kids on the other side of the field heard it," his father said. "And that he was hit from behind and never knew it was coming."
The teen was a linebacker for the junior varsity football team as a sophomore, although at 5 feet 6 inches, he was relatively small. But "his heart was as much as any defense line would ever have," his father said.
He lived most of his life in the same apartment complex in Ellicott City. He had withdrawn from Mount Hebron in December but was planning to finish his general equivalency diploma and join the Navy, his stepmother, Patricia Brazell, said.
Court records show that Brazell was arrested in October. The state's attorney's office said police had found a small bag of marijuana on him. Because he had no criminal record, the office agreed not to prosecute him if he performed 16 hours of community service.
"He wasn't perfect," his stepmother said. "But no kid is; no adult, either. He didn't deserve this." His family said yesterday that his organs will be donated because it is what he would have wanted.
Klink, who grew up nine miles from Brazell in Columbia, was co-captain of the Oakland Mills wrestling team as a senior and had a 28-5 record.
The state's attorney's office said Klink was put on probation after he was stopped last year on suspicion of driving while impaired.
This year, prosecutors said, he was stopped by police on accusations that he was driving with a suspended license and exceeding the speed limit. The trial date is set for April.
Jeremy Askew, Klink's next-door neighbor, who co-captained the wrestling team last year, described Klink as a good friend and a role model to teammates.
"I was like, 'This can't be Kevin,' " Askew said. "He had to be defending himself or someone."
Brazell's father said his heart ached when he read about Klink in news reports. "If he was some kind of wrestling champ, why did he need to take a baseball bat to my son from behind?'' he said.