A Baltimore teen hung his head and sobbed inside a courtroom Wednesday (Aug. 21) after a judge handed down a life sentence for the May 2018 death of an officer.
Dawnta Harris, 17, from West Baltimore, reportedly asked the judge for a second chance. Although he didn't speak in court, his defense attorney, Warren Brown, read the boy's six-page letter out loud.
“Show me mercy,” he begged
Harris, along with three other teens, reportedly were burglarizing homes in Perry Hall. Harris stole a Jeep Wrangler and was in the vehicle when officer Amy Caprio approached. Harris stepped on the gas and ran over the 29-year-old cop.
“I didn’t want to harm Officer Caprio at all; I just wanted to get away,” Harris wrote. “From the bottom of my heart, I thought she was going to move.”
Brown tried to convince Circuit Judge Jan Marshall Alexander to sentence the teen to 30 years for murdering Caprio, and asked he take into account his rough upbringing. However, speaking to reporters afterward he said he wasn't surprised by the ruling. “It wasn’t unexpected. The judge was under a lot of pressure.”
Caprio had been sent to investigate a suspicious Jeep when she spotted the teen. She blocked his way out with her patrol car, jumped out and ordered him to stop. As the jeep sped toward her, The Baltimore Sun reports Caprio drew her gun and yelled "Stop! Stop!"
Bodycam footage showed Dawnta stopped the jeep and opened the driver door slightly as if to surrender, only to get back inside, slam on the breaks and run over Caprio. Dawnta got rid of the jeep nearby and was found walking when he was arrested.
During a 14-hour interview with investigators, Dawnta admitted he panicked. “Once I saw the gun, I put my head down and closed my eyes," he told them. "It was like five seconds before I pushed on the gas."
Caprio died from broken ribs, and crushing injuries to her internal organs. She was found bleeding with tire marks on her legs.
Brown said he will appeal the ruling.