A Baltimore judge has refused to order a new trial for the man found guilty of killing an 11-year-old Jewish girl in 1969.
The ruling means Wayne Stephen Young will remain in prison for the abduction and murder of Esther Lebowitz, a case that has roiled the city’s Jewish community on edge through years of appeals and challenges, the Baltimore Sun reported
Defense lawyers for Young called the decision “disappointing” and vowed to appeal.
Jewish community leaders cheered the ruling.
“He’s a very dangerous person,” Neil Schachter, president of the Northwest Citizens Patrol, one of the nation’s first crime-watch organizations, told the Sun.
Dozens of convicted criminals have been set free or granted new trials after judges ruled Maryland procedures for instructing juries unfairly led to overly harsh sentences.
But Baltimore Circuit Judge Edward Hargadon said Thursday that the jurors who decided Young’s verdict in 1972 were adequately advised of how to try the case.
Legal experts questioned whether the ruling would stand on appeal.
Michael Millemann, a University of Maryland law professor who has been closely involved in several similar cases, called the judge’s decision “very disappointing.”
“It’s … not a fair application,” Millemann told the Sun.
Esther Lebowitz disappeared on Sept. 29, 1969, after a rabbi dropped her off near her home in a then-predominantly Jewish neighborhood.
Her bludgeoned body was found days later in a field off the side of the road. She was partly covered in sand and blue paint, which led authorities to the tropical fish store where Young worked.
Young, then in his early 20s, confessed to investigators that he had killed the girl. His attorneys claimed he was temporarily insane. Jurors convicted him in less than 30 minutes and sentenced him to life in prison.