Victim: Amy Sorrells Caprio, 29
Killers: Dawnta Anthony Harris, 16, Darrell Jaymar Ward, 15, Eugene Robert Genius, 17, & Derrick Eugene Matthews, 16
Crime date: May 21, 2018
Crime location: Perry Hall
Crimes: Murder of a police officer
Murder method: Running over
Sentences: Matthews and Genius– 30 years; Ward–life in prison with all but 30 years suspended; Harris– life in prison with the possibility of parole
Incarceration status: Harris—North Branch Correctional Institution; Ward—Jessup Correctional Institution; Genius—Patuxent Institution; Matthews—Central Maryland Correctional Facility
Summary of the crime
The situation began with the assailants burglarizing houses. Amy, a police officer, responded. She approached a car that was being driven by Harris. Harris began to exit the vehicle, but then re-entered and quickly accelerated, running over and killing Amy.
BALTIMORE COUNTY, MD — The last teen involved in the murder of Officer Amy Caprio was sentenced Monday, Sept. 30. He and two others had reached a plea agreement with the state to serve 30 years in prison.
Darrell Jaymar Ward, 16, of the 2300 block of Ashland Avenue in Baltimore, was reportedly sentenced to life in prison Monday with all but 30 years in prison suspended. His sentence is identical to that of two accomplices who were burglarizing homes in Perry Hall while their friend ran over and killed Caprio on May 21, 2018, police said.
Eugene Robert Genius, 19, of the 400 block of North Lakewood Road in Baltimore, and Derrick Eugene Matthews, 17, of the 200 block of South Dallas Court in Baltimore, were sentenced two weeks ago. The group stole a handgun and other items in the Perry Hall burglaries, their indictments said.
The gun that was stolen in the Perry Hall home burglaries has not been found, according to WBAL, which reported this crime was not Ward’s first encounter with the law. He had car theft and burglary on his juvenile record.
As the teens were walking around houses burglarizing them on Linwen Way the afternoon of May 21, 2018, Caprio was responding to the situation, which came in as a call about suspicious circumstances. While she was en route, she was informed there was a suspect vehicle described as a black Jeep.
When she approached the vehicle, driver Dawnta Harris began to exit the Jeep, then got back in and quickly accelerated, running over and killing Caprio, police said.
Harris, 17, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole in August for the officer’s murder.
If a person dies while an individual is committing a burglary, that individual may be charged with murder, Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said after the indictments were handed down by a grand jury in May 2018, explaining why all the teens were charged with murder.
“He will certainly have a long time to think about that,” Shellenberger told WBAL Monday, after the sentencing, where Ward’s attorneys tried to convince the judge that he had changed in jail by praying for Caprio’s family and studying. “It’s too late for change,” Schellenberger reportedly said.
A Baltimore County judge has sentenced Dawnta Harris to a life term in prison for the murder of police Officer Amy Caprio. Harris was 16 when the stolen Jeep he was driving ran over Caprio, 29, in the spring of 2018.
Within days of Caprio’s death, Harris was charged as an adult, facing a count of first-degree murder.
If the sentence withstands an appeal, Harris would be able to seek parole. In the past decade, the Supreme Court has issued several rulings that struck down mandatory terms of life in prison without parole for felons who committed homicide as juveniles.
On the day Caprio died, she was investigating a report of a suspicious vehicle in a neighborhood that had recently been hit by several burglaries. She tracked down a black Jeep Wrangler, with Harris at the wheel. At the time, police say, three other suspects were burglarizing a nearby home.
An arrest had seemed imminent when the Jeep stopped at the end of the cul-de-sac. After parking her patrol car to block the exit, Caprio got out, drew her gun and stood in front of the car, ordering Harris to get out of the Jeep.
After reviewing body cam footage of the incident, police said that Harris had at first seemed to be obeying Caprio’s order to get out — but then he suddenly got back in his seat and drove straight at her. Caprio was able to fire a single shot into the Jeep’s windshield before she was fatally struck.
Harris was arrested shortly afterwards; in an hours-long interview with police, he admitted that he panicked during the confrontation with Caprio, The Baltimore Sun reports.
“Three others, identified as Harris’ accomplices, also face murder charges,” member station WYPR reported when Harris was convicted in May. “Under Maryland law, if someone’s killed during a burglary, accomplices can be found guilty of the slaying along with the killer.”
Those three suspects are also being charged as adults, according to the Baltimore County Police Department.
Harris did not speak in court on Wednesday; instead, his lawyer read aloud a statement in which Harris said he was sorry, according to reporter Abby Isaacs of local TV station WMAR.
Isaacs adds that Harris’ defense team plans to appeal — and that they’re “grateful he can spend part of his time in Patuxent Institution’s Youth Program, which dedicates more resources to counseling and rehabilitation.”
Responding to Wednesday’s sentencing, Baltimore County Councilman David Marks — who represents the neighborhood where the killing took place — issued a statement:
“No penalty can bring back Officer Caprio or eliminate the pain and suffering inflicted on Officer Caprio’s family and the Perry Hall neighborhood I represent. I would like to thank the prosecutors who pursued the toughest sanctions allowed by law.”
The case has unfolded as Baltimore deals with the fallout from the death of Freddie Gray after being taken into police custody, while also coping with a tragically high murder rate and persistent claims of police misconduct.
And as the Sun reports, “The murder of a white police woman by a black teenager set off a firestorm of debate, much of it racially charged.”
TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Two of the three teens convicted of burglary in connection with the death of Baltimore County Officer Amy Caprio were sentenced Monday to 30 years in prison in connection with Caprio’s death.
The teens — Derrick Matthews and Eugene Genius, who were 16 and 17 at the time of Caprio’s murder — were convicted of felony murder last May.
Matthews, who’s now 17, pleaded for leniency and cried in court Monday.
“To Officer Caprio’s family, I’m sorry for the loss of your loved one,” Matthews said to the judge.
Genius read a statement apologizing to Caprio’s family.
“I regret everything I’ve done to cause you any sort of pain. If I could take it all back, I would,” he told the Caprio family. “I just ask for forgiveness.”
Genius’ grandfather spoke to the media following his grandson’s sentencing, describing the teens as boys who made the wrong choices.
“I felt the fear in their body,” Pastor Eugene Genius II said outside the courthouse Monday.
He talked about how Matthews and his grandson were still growing and learning but acknowledged that their mistake led to the murder of Officer Caprio.
Genius said his grandson would not break into anyone’s home “and wouldn’t especially be involved in a murder” if he had to do it over again.
“It hurts my heart,” he said.
Under Maryland’s long-standing felony murder law, accomplices can be held responsible for a killing they did not directly commit.
“Felony murder should be abolished in this state,“ said Matthews’ defense attorney William Buie.
But Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger defended the law and the sentence as fair.
“They understood exactly what they were pleading guilty to several months ago,” Shellenberger said. “Nobody does anything alone anymore. The felony murder crime and the way it’s used now is more important than ever, and this is a perfect example.”
Prosecutor Robin Coffin said in court, “This group engaged in utter lawlessness. Their participation in these crimes directly led to the death of Officer Caprio.”
She read Matthews’ lengthy criminal record that included assault, burglary, robbery with a weapon and a probation violation. Genius also had a prior record that included auto theft and burglary.
Coffin told the court Genius has had problems since his incarceration including allegations he incited a riot, smeared fecal matter in his cell and fought a correctional officer.
His defense attorney said that is because Genius is held with the adult population, unlike the others changed in this case.
The defense attorney played a video during the sentencing where loved ones, including Genius’ mother and father, an Army Staff Sergeant, spoke on his behalf.
It did not sway Judge Jan Alexander.
“He’s here because he was out of control,” Alexander said. “The behavior was outrageous to begin with. They should have been in school.”
Judge Alexander said what happened was “not a mistake. This was a conscious decision to commit crimes.”
Genius has since earned his high school diploma.
Both Matthews and Genius asked that they are placed in the youthful offenders program at Patuxent Institution.
Caprio’s family declined to comment today. At Harris’ sentencing last month, Caprio’s widow said he was still in pain and remembered her life. “She was selfless—the best person I ever knew,” Timothy Caprio said. He wept in court and told Judge Alexander how the killing “shattered my life.”
A third convicted teen, Darrell Ward, is scheduled to be sentenced on September 30.
The three teens pleaded guilty to murder after they burglarized a home on May 21, 2018.
While they were inside the home, Dawnta Harris fatally struck Officer Caprio with a stolen Jeep. Harris was sentenced to life in prison.
Ward also faces up to 30 years in prison.