(CBS/AP) BALTIMORE - A Baltimore judge has convicted Eliyahu Werdesheim in the 2010 beating of a black teenager. Eliyahu and his brother Avi Werdesheim were both accused off attacking the 16-year-old they encountered while responding to a suspicious person report received by an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood watch group.
Eliyahu was convicted of false imprisonment and second-degree assault. But he was cleared of carrying a deadly weapon with intent to injure while Avi was acquitted of all three counts.
Judge Pamela White ruled from the bench against Eliyahu, 24, and Avi Werdesheim, 22, highlighting concerns about the lack of credibility of the testimony from members of the watch group, Shomrim of Baltimore. The brothers opted for a bench trial after withdrawing a motion to move their trial because of publicity comparing their case to the fatal shooting of black Florida teen Trayvon Martin would make it difficult to find an impartial jury.
The brothers could have faced up to 13 years if convicted on all three charges. Eliyahu now faces up to 10 years on the assault count at sentencing in June.
Prosecutors said the brothers attacked the teen, hitting him with a radio and holding him on the ground. Eliyahu testified that he acted in self-defense when the teen attacked him with a nail-studded plank and said his brother, who was not a group member, wasn't involved in the fight. The judge rejected Eliyahu's claim of self-defense.
J. Wyndal Gordon, an attorney representing the teen's family in a civil suit, said they dropped the $6 million suit against Shomrim and the brothers on Wednesday. The family decided that the young man is not "durable" enough to make it through the rigors of a civil suit.
"There's no amount of money that would allow his mother to let him go through this process again," Gordon said. "This case was never about money. It was about justice and we got it today."
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