The case of brothers Avi and Eliyahu Werdesheim (pictured left and right, respectively), who were accused of assaulting a Black teen in an orthodox Jewish neighborhood while on Neighborhood Watch, has taken a new turn. Instead of facing a jury in the 2010 beating of the then-15-year-old boy, the attorneys for the Werdesheim brothers were granted a bench trial on Tuesday, citing the public Trayvon Martin case as an impetus for the request, reports NBC affiliate WBAL-TV 11.
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A bench trial in a case of this magnitude is a plus for the Werdesheims and their attorneys, as it signifies that only the judge will hear evidence from both sides regarding the case. With such an explosive racial component, a trial with a jury in predominately Black Baltimore would certainly place the brothers under tougher scrutiny and place the case on the the national stage, a development their attorneys wanted to avoid.
On Monday, the Werdesheims’ attorneys argued in written statements against having a jury trial because they believe their defendants wouldn’t be able to receive a fair trial:
Both [this case and Trayvon Martin's case] involve young African-American males walking along on public thoroughfares, who supposedly were accosted by one or more Caucasian members of citizen patrol groups who felt they didn’t belong in the area, and allegedly subjected to unprovoked attacks,” the motion said. The Werdesheims can’t get a fair trial in Baltimore amid all the publicity.
At the time, defense attorneys asked for the trial to be delayed or moved. The following day, they were granted a bench trial.
According to documents, the Werdesheims claim they acted in self-defense, after encountering the teen. The reports conflict from there, though, as charges state the brothers surrounded the teen, threw him to the ground, and struck the boy in the head with a two-way radio. A third man was said to have held the teen down as he was searched for contraband. Eliyahu, 24, said in an interview with a Jewish Baltimore publication that the boy brandished a wooden plank, prompting him and his 21-year-old brother to take action.
Watch the local Black community react here:
The trial is heating up as the judge has begun to allow evidence to be presented in the case. So far, only the Jewish Baltimore Times interview has been entered as evidence, as the article links the men to the scene of the crime. Further in the report, supporters of the teen were outside the courthouse and vocalized their disdain of the brothers.
“We represent every young person in this city who has experienced these kinds of atrocities in this city every single day,” said the supporter of the racially charged case.
As the nation has discovered in the Trayvon Martin murder, America is not the post-racial utopia it portrays itself to be. This case highlights that race and proper justice are reluctant bedfellows, and a pair of Jewish boys of privilege are exhibiting the clear distinctions between Black and White crime. The Werdesheims should be tried publicly and endure the same invasive media tactics Blacks face across the nation in so-called courts of law.
What do you think?