Brothers plead not guilty to beating black teen

Protests erupt outside of courthouse

Baltimore, Md. - Avi and Eliyahu Werdesheim, brothers and former members of a Northwest Baltimore patrol group called Shomrim, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to beating a black teenager last fall.

People from both sides of the controversy were on-hand outside the downtown courthouse to lend their support.

One group of demonstrators composed of Jews, the other of African-Americans. People on both sides were blunt and loud about their opinions of the case. Some people said they support the pair, others say it was blatant racism.

20-year-old Avi Werdesheim and his brother, 23-year-old Eliyahu Werdesheim, are charged with false imprisonment, second-degree assault and possession of a deadly weapon in the Nov. 19 incident.

Both face a maximum sentence of 10 years if convicted. They are scheduled for trial on May 2 in Baltimore Circuit Court.

According to charging documents, Eliyahu Werdesheim approached the teen while he was standing in the 3300 block of Fallstaff Road. The teen told police that Werdesheim struck him in the head with his radio and shouted, "You don't belong around here - get out of here!"

A felony assault charge against the elder Werdesheim brother, a community college student who is also a former Israeli special forces soldier, was dismissed last month. Andrew I. Alperstein, a lawyer who represents him, said Wednesday that neither of the men participates for now in Shomrim, whose Orthodox Jewish members patrol parts of Northwest Baltimore.


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