- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 3, 2004

A 16-year-old charged with murder was the instigator and “lead actor” in the beating and eventual death of an 18-year-old killed after he offered to buy a girl a Slurpee at a 7-Eleven, prosecutors said yesterday.

Surveillance tapes from inside the Suitland convenience store show Emmanuel McClain starting a fight with Michael Bassett, said John Maloney, an assistant Prince George’s County state’s attorney.

It was the McClain youth who later chased and beat Mr. Bassett to the ground on Silver Hill Road, moments before Mr. Bassett was struck by at least two cars, the prosecutor said at a bond hearing.

“We have witnesses who saw this defendant stomping and stomping on the person,” Mr. Maloney said.

Prince George’s District Judge Patrice Lewis ordered the teenager from Suitland held without bond on first-degree murder charges. He has a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 14.

The McClain youth’s attorney, Antoini Jones, acknowledged that the teen may have scuffled with Mr. Bassett inside the 7-Eleven, saying it was started when the two bumped each other in the store.

The Slurpee offer did not spark that fight, Mr. Jones said.

He also said the beating on Silver Hill Road was a separate incident to the 7-Eleven fight, one that his client did not take part in.

“My client just had a minor role in this,” Mr. Jones said after the bail hearing. “He was just out there.”

Police have said as many as eight people may have been involved in Mr. Bassett’s death early Sunday, but only one had been arrested as of Thursday afternoon. Police spokeswoman Cpl. Diane Richardson said investigators had made “significant progress” on locating other suspects.

According to charging documents, Mr. Bassett and two friends went to the 7-Eleven at about 3:30 a.m. The McClain youth took offense to Mr. Bassett’s offer of a Slurpee for the girl, followed him into the store and picked a fight, Mr. Maloney said.

Mr. Bassett fled, but was chased by a group of men, the charging documents state. At some point, several gunshots were fired, but no one was hit. The group caught up with Mr. Bassett on Silver Hill Road, where he was beaten and left on the road.

Police said they do not know yet whether Mr. Bassett died from the beating or from being struck by the cars.

Mr. Maloney said security officials at Suitland High School, where Emmanuel was a sophomore, said he was fascinated with “the thug life,” which included guns and prison life.

The prosecutor also said he had been suspended from school in the past and alluded to a juvenile criminal record, although he did not provide specifics.

Emmanuel was charged with Mr. Bassett’s murder after he turned himself in to police Wednesday.

Mr. Jones plans to try to get the case moved to juvenile court, noting that Emmanuel just turned 16 Thursday. He also said Emmanuel’s role in the incident does not warrant a first-degree murder charge.

“I’m not sure it was a first-degree murder at all,” he said.

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