- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 12, 2005

ANNAPOLIS — An Anne Arundel County jury has acquitted a Pasadena, Md., teen of manslaughter in the beating death of 17-year-old Jamahl Jones at a Pasadena house party on July 24.

The jury yesterday found Jacob Fortney, 19, not guilty on all counts after deliberating for approximately three hours.

Jamahl’s family stormed out of the courtroom after the verdict was read. Mr. Fortney hugged his friends and family, and some supporters cheered, but one of his attorneys told them to tone it down.

‘Nobody gloats,’ attorney David Fischer told Mr. Fortney’s supporters. ‘There was a young man who died. That kid did not deserve to die.’

Mr. Fortney declined to comment on his way out of the courthouse.

Jamahl was a senior at Northeast High School in Pasadena when he died as a result of the brawl that broke out last summer after he and three friends burst into a backyard party. One of his friends has been charged with wielding a handgun and the other was accused of bringing a stun gun.

One of the men charged in the case, Joshua Bradley, testified that he saw Mr. Fortney run and jump on Jamahl’s face and then heard him brag about it later.

Mr. Fortney was charged with involuntary manslaughter, first- and second-degree assault, and reckless endangerment. If convicted, he faced up to 50 years in prison.

The jury must not have felt that Mr. Bradley was a credible witness, said defense attorney David Putzi.

Jamahl and his friends are black, and the men charged, ranging in age from 19 to 21, are white. Civil rights advocates said they were disappointed with the outcome and with the all-white jury that determined the verdict.

?We’re definitely disappointed,? said Anne Arundel County NAACP President Gerald Stansbury. ?Yes, we had concerns about the all-white jury, but someone who was responsible for the death of Jamahl Jones will be brought to justice.?

Race had nothing to do with it, although the jury was all white, Mr. Fischer said. Anyone who had heard the evidence presented would have come to the same conclusion.

?We do not believe that race played a role,? he said. ?It had nothing to do with race.?

Prosecutor William Roessler said he was disappointed with the verdict and that he believed Mr. Bradley was telling the truth about seeing Mr. Fortney kick Jamahl.

The makeup of the jury had no effect on the decision, he said.

Charges against Mr. Bradley, one of the five other men charged in the case, would be dropped soon, Mr. Roessler said.

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