- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 5, 2008

TOWSON, Md. (AP) — The 15-year-old boy charged with killing his parents and two brothers in their upscale suburban Baltimore home was denied bail yesterday.

Attorneys for the teen, Nicholas Browning, a Boy Scout, had asked for $1 million bail, citing his lack of a prior criminal record and exemplary academic background.

The teen, who spent Friday night with friends, called 911 after he was brought home by friends Saturday night and said he found his father’s body on the ground floor of the family’s expansive farmhouse-style home, police said.

Officers found four bodies inside the house — those of John Browning, his wife, Tamara, and the teen’s two younger brothers.

Police think the teen shot them Friday with one of his father’s guns as they slept, tossed the handgun into the bushes nearby, then returned a day later to stage the “discovery” of his father’s body. He confessed early Sunday to police and was charged as an adult with four counts of first-degree murder, police said.

The victims were identified as John, 45; Tamara, 44; Gregory, 14, and Benjamin, 11.

The teen had quarrelled with his father, a real-estate lawyer, police said in a press release, but investigators offered no other details. There was no sign of a confrontation Friday at the house, police said.

Lawyer Steve Silverman told reporters that he was retained by the teen, who contacted his office Sunday.

Mr. Silverman asked people not to jump to conclusions about his client, saying he repeatedly denied killing his family during hours of police interrogation before the reported confession. During the hearing, Mr. Silverman reminded the court that a study by the Innocence Project found that roughly 25 percent of exonerated people had made confessions later found to be false.

Mr. Silverman said his client is an honor student at Dulaney High School and one interview away from becoming an Eagle Scout. He played varsity golf and lacrosse and was a skier.

“I don’t even think he’s even been suspended from school,” Mr. Silverman said. “Quite frankly, it’s really quite shocking.”

John Browning was a partner with Royston, Mueller, McLean & Reid, Baltimore County’s oldest law firm, as well as a scoutmaster and a leader in his church.

Jennifer Welsh, who lived across the street from the family and whose son played lacrosse with Nicholas Browning, who turns 16 on Saturday described him as “a very polite, well-mannered, average teenage boy.”

She said her son was upset and confused by the killings.

“He’s wondering … ‘How?’ ‘Why?’ He’s trying to digest the whole thing.” Mrs. Welsh said.

The neighbor said she was struggling to understand what could have driven the teenager to kill his family.

“Nobody knows what goes on in his head, and I guess we never will,” Mrs. Welsh said.

Associated Press writer Kristen Wyatt contributed to this report.

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