Sentencing in an attempted murder case was postponed Wednesday in Frederick County Circuit Court after the defense objected to the state’s use of enhanced photographs taken from surveillance footage of the crime.
William James Sewell II, 16, was initially charged with assault, reckless endangerment and firearms offenses after county sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of shots fired on April 3 in the Mountain View apartment complex in the Ballenger area.
Sewell, who was charged as an adult, was later indicted on both the aforementioned charges as well as attempted first-degree murder on April 26. He ultimately pleaded guilty Oct. 28 to attempted first-degree murder and illegal possession of a regulated firearm, and a sentencing hearing was set for Wednesday before Judge Scott Rolle, according to online court records.
The hearing proceeded as expected, with Frederick County Assistant State’s Attorney Lindsey Carpenter playing a surveillance tape for Rolle depicting the confrontation between Sewell’s group and another group of people in the parking lot of the apartment complex. While the video was already introduced as evidence in the case and made available to the defense, Margaret Teahan, Sewell’s defense attorney, objected when Carpenter next showed Rolle an enhanced photograph taken from the footage.
“Your honor will see right there is a child wearing a backpack,” Carpenter said, pointing to the image, which was zoomed in on a young child standing near Sewell’s group just before the shooting began.
Teahan objected, arguing that, while she was aware of the footage, she had never seen the enhanced photographs, another of which appeared to show Sewell loading a weapon before the gunfire.
“I’m bothered by the use of enhanced photographs,” Teahan said after she was allowed a brief recess to confer with her client, again acknowledging that she was ultimately aware of the footage, but not the zoomed-in still images. “... It’s more of an issue of fundamental fairness to this young man.”
At Teahan’s request, Rolle agreed to postpone the hearing until Dec. 19 after pointing out that, while he agreed with Teahan’s argument over fairness, he was not criticizing the state’s use of the enhanced photographs, which was completely within their rights. Neither Carpenter nor Laura Wilt, another assistant state’s attorney working the case, objected to the postponement.
“This is not a discovery violation or anything of that nature at all. ... This is not on the state,” Rolle said.