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Charges filed against man in robbery

A judge finds probable cause to bring charges against a suspect in a Dec. 12 home invasion. Another suspect's preliminary hearin

A judge finds probable cause to bring charges against a suspect in a Dec. 12 home invasion. Another suspect's preliminary hearin

January 03, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A bulging afro helped give away the identity of a masked man who allegedly robbed three people in Hagerstown last month, a police officer testified Thursday.

Alleged teenage gunman Russell Nelson Younker wore a ski mask during the Dec. 12 home invasion at 25 Broadway, Hagerstown Police Detective Carroll Braun said during a preliminary hearing in Washington County District Court.

Still, the victims of the crime recognized Younker, 17, by his eyes and lips through the holes of the ski mask, his voice and the "large afro bulging out" of the mask, Braun said.

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Braun, who helped investigate the robbery, was the only witness to testify during the hearing.

Washington County District Judge R. Noel Spence found probable cause for a slew of charges against Younker to be sent to circuit court for prosecution.

Stephen Henry Baptiste Jr., 17, is facing the same charges as Younker: three counts apiece of armed robbery, robbery, first-degree assault and theft; and one count apiece of first-degree burglary, third-degree burglary, fourth-degree burglary and use of a handgun in a crime of violence.

Baptiste also appeared in court Thursday. However, he said the public defender's office had yet to assign him an attorney, so Spence postponed Baptiste's hearing.

Hagerstown City Police have said three male gunmen - including one who has not been found - robbed three people at 25 Broadway on Dec. 12.

A man who recognized Baptiste knocking on the door let him in, allowing Baptiste and two other men to burst in with guns, police have said.

Braun testified that the three gunmen stole a bracelet, two packs of cigarettes, a half-ounce of marijuana belonging to one person, a pound of marijuana belonging to another person and an unknown amount of money.

Hagerstown City Police arrested Baptiste and Younker on Dec. 20 after staking out and searching 37 Fairground Ave.

A photo police released before the arrest showed Younker with an afro, but his hair was closely cropped in court Thursday.

Public defender Eric Reed argued that Spence should dismiss some charges because Younker was not accused of robbing two of the alleged victims and because there was no proof that the gun he allegedly brandished had worked.

Spence said Reed's argument for dismissing the breaking and entering charge - the victims let the alleged gunmen in - was "viable," yet he let every charge stand. The robbers got in "through trickery," which was "all part of the subterfuge," he said.

In circuit court, however, "there will indeed be some weeding out" of charges, he said.

Younker, whose last known address was on Hamilton Boulevard in Hagerstown, is free on $20,000 bond.

Baptiste, whose last known address was on Broadway in Hagerstown, is being held at the Washington County Detention Center on $150,000 bond.

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