The trial of two Orthodox Jewish brothers accused beating a black teenager will begin today in Baltimore. This case is widely being compared to the Trayvon Martin shooting.
According to prosecutors, Eliyahu Werdesheim, 24, and Avi Werdesheim, 21, were patrolling their heavily Orthodox neighborhood in November 2010, when they surrounded a 15-year-old boy, pushed him to the ground, searched him and hit him in the head with a hand-held radio. The teenager was later treated for a broken wrist and a head laceration.
The brothers say they acted in self defense, and that the teen was carrying a piece of wood. They face up to 13 years in prison, if they are convicted of the three charges against them: second-degree assault, false imprisonment and carrying a deadly weapon. The deadly weapon in this case is the hand-held radio.
A civil suit filed by the teen’s family names a third person, Ronald Rosenbluth, as having been involved in the attack, according to the Associated Press. But police say that they don’t believe that Rosenbluth participated in the beating, and he does not face charges.
At the time of the incident, Eliyahu Werdesheim was serving as a member of the Shomrim of Baltimore, a neighborhood watch organization that patrols the city’s Jewish neighborhoods. He has since been suspended from that organization. Avi Werdesheim was not a member of that group.
The trial begins as tremendous media attention focuses on the Trayvon Martin case, in which a neighborhood watchman, George Zimmerman, faces second-degree murder charges in the shooting death of 17-year-old Martin in Sanford, Fla.