Six charged so far
with beating death
The alleged conspirators in the June 4 beating death of 16-year-old Malik McCoy of Aspen Hill were connected by an association with an area gang, the county's top prosecutor said.
Court documents charging four teenagers and a 23-year-old with second-degree murder and another teen with manslaughter in the death of the youth do not mention gang activity. But during a Monday bond hearing in district court, prosecutors said the defendants were connected by their association with TRG, or the Tiny Rascals Gang.
"Some were gang members and some were wannabes," said Douglas F. Gansler, state's attorney for Montgomery County, in an interview outside the District Court building in Rockville.
Gansler said he didn't know much about the gang, but characterized it as a loose-knit formation of people. "This is how the defendants were associated," Gansler said, noting that this was not a gang hit, but that those involved were coincidentally associated with the gang.
"This was an ongoing altercation between two groups of people ... [that] spilled into the evening," from an earlier argument at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring, Gansler said.
Capt. Patricia Walker, commander of Montgomery County Police Fourth District, said TRG, an Asian gang, has been in the area for about eight to 10 years, but she added, "[The gang] is not something we've dealt with a lot in recent years."
"I would be shocked if there were [TRG] at Kennedy High School," Walker said Tuesday.
Attorneys for at least two of the defendants denied that their clients were gang members or involved with a gang.
"He's not a gang member," said James N. Papirmeister, attorney for 23-year-old Tyrone Andre Nichols, a Silver Spring man charged with second-degree murder. Papirmeister said his client never even heard of the gang and said linking Nichols to a gang was "prejudice by association."
But during the bond hearing Monday, Deputy State's Attorney John McCarthy attempted to make the case for the association, alleging that the defendants as a group either sought out McCoy the night of June 4, or were called to join in a street fight that began with a verbal argument between McCoy and 16-year-old defendant Jelani Parker earlier that day in the principal's office at Kennedy High School.
"It was not more dramatic than that," McCarthy said afterward.
According to witness testimony in court documents, Parker, a Kennedy High School student who lives in the 14900 block of Cleese Court in Silver Spring, called the defendants and asked them to help fight McCoy.
"This is the person who set the wheels of this killing machine in motion," McCarthy said in court. "He told McCoy he was going to get someone to go after him and he did. He made the original threats and called out the troops."
Parker's defense attorney Barry H. Helfand, denied that his client was a "ringleader or anything like that."
"I think evidence will show to the contrary that this person didn't want to fight anyone," Helfand said, adding that Parker attempted to mediate the "beef between McCoy and him."
Testimony from defendant Jonathan Usama Dubbaneh, 17, of the unit block of Homecrest Court in Silver Spring, as well as statements from three witnesses, set the foundation for the prosecution's case against Parker and six others.
Parker; Nichols, of the 10100 block of McKenney Avenue; George Hanna Haddad, 19, of the 11000 block of Grassy Knoll Terrace in Germantown; Jerrold Chandler, 17, of the 13300 block of Hathaway Drive in Silver Spring; and Dante Farrah, 17, of the 13900 block of Valleyfield Drive in Silver Spring have been charged with second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit second-degree murder, second-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault. Dubbaneh was charged with manslaughter and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault.
The teenagers have been charged as adults.
Gansler said a warrant has been issued for the remaining defendant, 22-year-old Sovannary Yoeun, who he said "fled the area but will be apprehended shortly."
According to the testimony, Dubbaneh, Farrah, Chandler and Haddad, who is Dubbaneh's cousin, were at Yoeun's home when they heard that McCoy and some friends attempted to attack Parker and another person after school.
Parker asked the group to assist him in finding McCoy and his friend for a fight, according to court documents. The group responded and a search ensued in an attempt to find McCoy and 17-year-old Christopher Honore, a prosecution witness who was injured in the fight.
Parker left the group to find McCoy himself and while waiting for him to return, Haddad's friend, Nichols, joined the group.
All seven went to an apartment building in the 14000 block of Valleyfield Drive in the Norbeck/Layhill area, where McCoy was visiting friends, according to court documents.
At about 10 p.m., Parker, accompanied by another witness, knocked on the door and asked Parker to come out to fight, while Dubbaneh, Farrah, Chandler and Haddad hid in the bushes, according to Dubbaneh's testimony. Nichols and Yoeun were in the parking lot near their car.
When McCoy and Honore came outside, Dubbaneh, Farrah, Chandler and Haddad emerged from the bushes, and Nichols and Yoeun joined them at the rear of the residence where the fight occurred.
Witnesses describe a violent fight that got out of control in which several people struck McCoy multiple times in an assault District Court Judge Michael J. Algeo called "a horrendous attack."
When police and rescue units arrived, they found McCoy unconscious and suffering from severe blunt trauma to the head. McCoy, who lived on Chesterwood Drive in Silver Spring, was taken to Montgomery General Hospital in Olney, where he was pronounced dead a short time later.
McCoy died of severe blunt trauma to the head and the manner of death was homicide, the Office of the Medical Examiner in Baltimore ruled. There were no gunshot or stab wounds.
While witness testimony differs on who threw the first punch, and although it's unclear who struck the fatal blow that killed McCoy, McCarthy said in court, "[Farrah] along with Haddad are most responsible for the death of McCoy."
McCarthy said Farrah "was seen stomping on McCoy." When the group went to a hotel later that evening "not knowing they killed [McCoy], [Farrah] was bragging about how much he stomped" on McCoy, McCarthy said.
McCarthy charged that Haddad "was the first to actually strike a blow," which he said "could fairly be characterized as a sucker punch."
Haddad's attorney, John Patrick Kudel, denied that his client struck a fatal blow.
Judge Algeo kept Nichols' bond set at $750,000, Parker's at $250,000, and Haddad's and Farrah's at $1 million. Chandler was released after posting $100,000 bond. Dubbaneh had his bond reduced from $350,000 to $100,000.
Preliminary hearings have been scheduled for late June and early July.