Post, 6 Jan 2008 (Castaneda)
Three of the four teenagers charged with fatally beating a 56-year-old man over a cigarette in Bladensburg last May pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree murder, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said.
The three, who were charged as adults, entered their pleas before Circuit Court Judge Beverly Woodard, authorities said.
Marcus L. Williams, Regina R. Young-Bey and Calaisha L. Vaughn, all 15, admitted to fatally beating Aboubacar Camara.
The fourth defendant, Justin E. McBride, also 15, pleaded that he was "involved" -- the juvenile court equivalent of a guilty plea -- to a charge of first-degree murder last month, officials said.
Camara, an immigrant from Guinea, was beaten to death near Bladensburg High School on the afternoon of May 28.
According to police, Camara was walking near the school's playground when Vaughn approached him and asked for a cigarette.
Camara declined the request and was punched and knocked to the ground by Young-Bey, police and prosecutors said.
The four teenagers repeatedly kicked Camara as he lay on the ground, authorities said. The attackers stole cigarettes from Camara and ran.
Camara was taken to Prince George's Hospital Center, where he died from his injuries.
"Four young people beat this man to death for no reason," Ivey said in a statement. "We have held them accountable for that. We have to take a hard look at creating new options for sentencing juveniles. We have to make sure that juveniles are separated from adults in prison because it assures that they will not be exploited in prison."
Williams, Young-Bey and Vaughn are scheduled to be sentenced March 26.
Prosecutors will work with defense attorneys to try to find a safe location for the three attackers, who entered their pleas in adult court, said Ramon Korionoff, an Ivey spokesman.
The juvenile court judge in McBride's case could order that he be held in a juvenile facility until he is 21. The date of McBride's sentencing could not be learned yesterday.
Under the terms of plea agreements for Williams, Young-Bey and Vaughn, prosecutors will ask for a sentence within advisory state guidelines, which would mean terms of about 18 years each in prison, Korionoff said. They would be able to cut their sentences by about half with credit for good behavior, Korionoff said.
The four attackers belonged to a small gang that called itself the "Skull Crushers," authorities said.
Camara came to the United States in 1994. He had worked in banking and finance in his native West Africa but found life difficult in the United States, friends said. At the time of his death, Camara was working for a Prince George's County moving company, doing odd jobs.