- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 11, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — Defense attorneys for a 19-year-old man on trial in the beating death of a Pasadena teenager rested their case yesterday after attacking the testimony of a witness who said that the defendant bragged about stomping the victim’s head.

Jacob Fortney, who did not testify, is one of six men accused of manslaughter and other charges in the death of Jamahl Jones and the first to stand trial. Jamahl, 17, a senior at Northeast High School, died July 24 as a result of head injuries suffered during a fight that broke out after he and three friends burst into a house party.

Closing arguments were set for this morning.

Joshua Bradley, who also was charged with manslaughter, testified Tuesday that he saw Mr. Fortney run and jump onto Jamahl while he was on the ground, later bragging about what he had done. “[Mr. Fortney] said, ‘Did you see me kick him? Did you see me? I crushed his head,’” Mr. Bradley testified.

But an independent forensic pathologist, Dr. Jonathan Arden, testified yesterday that Jamahl’s facial injuries were superficial and consistent with what might happen in a fistfight — not with an adult jumping on someone’s face. He said the teenager died after he fell, and the back of his head slammed into the concrete.

A person whose face had been stomped, Dr. Arden said, would have massive injuries, including broken bones and, often, a pattern of the shoes’ tread imprinted on the face — injuries Jamahl did not have.

Asked by defense attorney David Fischer whether he thought someone had jumped on Jamahl’s face, Dr. Arden answered, “Based on the medical evidence, that scenario never occurred.”

When questioned by a state prosecutor, Dr. Arden said Jamahl could have received further injuries after the blow to the back of his head.

Defense attorneys twice requested an acquittal yesterday, saying Mr. Bradley’s testimony was unreliable and contradictory. Circuit Judge Joseph Manck denied the motions.

Much of the afternoon was taken up with arguments between the attorneys on whether to allow testimony from the defense’s second, and final, witness — a mutual friend of Mr. Fortney’s and Mr. Bradley’s. The jury wasn’t present for the discussions.

The judge eventually allowed testimony from Jennifer Littleton, 19, a college student who has known Mr. Bradley since childhood, and who briefly dated him in high school.

Miss Littleton had approached Mr. Fischer on Monday, saying she wanted to testify on Mr. Fortney’s behalf. Despite objections from prosecutors, who said she was unreliable, Judge Manck allowed her to take the stand yesterday.

She testified that she asked Mr. Bradley in August, after he was released from jail, whether he knew who killed Jamahl. “[Mr. Bradley] said he did not know because he was too busy fighting for himself and his younger brother,” Miss Littleton said.

Prosecutors said the conversation took place when Mr. Bradley and Mr. Fortney were still friends, and before both had been charged with manslaughter.

Jamahl and his friends are black, and the youths charged are white. Members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have been monitoring the trial.

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