- The Washington Times - Friday, February 22, 2008

GARDEN CITY, N.Y. — Nicholas Weaver was sitting in his college science class on Long Island last week, just months from graduation and thinking about sending applications to law schools.

Suddenly, the Eagle Scout found himself needing an attorney after being led away in handcuffs to face charges that he killed an aspiring rapper in Baltimore when he was 16.

Mr. Weaver, 22, and Charles H. Davis, 21, are accused of fatally shooting David Baskin Jr. on July 3, 2002, in what police describe as a fight over a girl.

Defense attorneys insist the description of Mr. Weaver as a violent criminal sharply contradicts the resume he has built at Adelphi University in Garden City: intern at a Baltimore law firm last summer and a jury clerk for the Circuit Court in Baltimore in 2006. A year earlier, he went to Uganda to volunteer with AIDS-infected children. He became an Eagle Scout before that.

“When I heard the news, I was just stunned,” said former Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke, a family friend. “My wife’s reaction was similar to mine. We were hoping it was a case of mistaken identity.”

The investigation into Mr. Baskin’s killing remained in the cold-case file for years, until an informant contacted detectives last month. Police conducted a follow-up interview with Mr. Davis, who admitted being present when Mr. Baskin was killed but said he was not involved, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a Baltimore County Police Department spokesman.

That interview prompted another witness to come forward, and detectives found enough information to charge the two young men last week. Mr. Weaver was arrested without incident Thursday morning after being summoned from class by a campus security officer. Mr. Davis was apprehended in Baltimore.

Adding to the thaw in the case was a $5,000 reward, offered after the victim’s family won $50,000 in the Maryland Lottery. It was not clear whether anyone will receive that money.

Mr. Weaver waived his right to fight extradition back to Maryland in a brief court appearance Tuesday before a Nassau County judge.

“He’s adamant that he did not commit this crime, that he had no involvement,” Baltimore defense lawyer Margaret Mead said. “This is an excellent young man, and it is a real tragedy the state is bringing false charges against him.”

Authorities in Maryland say the killing nearly six years ago was the culmination of a simmering feud between rival groups of teenagers over a girl. A week before the killing, prosecutors said, Mr. Weaver and some friends went to Mr. Baskin’s house “and beat him after he came to the door.”

Police say the group returned five days later, this time with a gun.

Court documents say that shortly before midnight on July 3, 2002, Mr. Weaver and some friends parked near the girl’s house, close to the site where Mr. Baskin was killed. Mr. Weaver and Mr. Davis got out of the car and were gone for about 15 minutes, the documents say.

“It’s done,” Mr. Weaver said after returning to the vehicle, according to the documents.

Mr. Baskin, who turned 18 a day earlier, died of a gunshot wound to his back.

Miss Mead said authorities sought to charge another man in the killing in 2002, but a grand jury declined to issue an indictment. “It’s clear they have the wrong person,” she said. “I’m pretty angry that they are taking the word of a person who has been convicted in other matters. There is no physical evidence that Nicholas had anything to do with this.”

Mr. Weaver’s parents are longtime professionals in the Baltimore area. His father is Dr. Jesse R. Weaver, a dentist, and his mother, Alice G. Pinderhughes, is a lawyer. His grandmother, the late Alice G. Pinderhughes, was the first female superintendent of Baltimore city schools.

Mr. Weaver’s parents declined to speak with reporters after Tuesday’s extradition hearing.

Mr. Schmoke, now the dean of the Howard University Law School, lives down the street from the Weaver family and noted that Nick was interested in pursuing a career in law.

“He reminded me in some respects of the young men I’ve met at Howard, one foot in popular culture, another foot in a fairly establishment career. … He seemed to be looking to the future with great anticipation. He seemed to gain in maturity each time I saw him.”

AP writer Wiley Hall in Baltimore contributed to this report.

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