In Maryland, prosecutors in Prince George's County are getting additional money to go after repeat violent offenders.
A year ago on Old Central Avenue in Capitol Heights, Central High School student Marckel Ross was shot and killed after an attempted robbery. Several stuffed animal dolls still lie at the base of a pole in memory of Ross. Travon Bennett was eventually arrested for the crime. But at the time he was charged with Ross's murder, Bennett had already been in police custody for several months, accused of a string of armed robberies.
Bennett is the poster child for the type of criminal prosecutors will be targeting with money from a new state grant. The $850,000 will go to the state attorney's office strategic investigations unit to go after violent offenders they deem may commit additional crimes while out on bail. Prince George's County state's attorney Angela Alsobrooks said that while Bennett is a good example, there are sadly plenty of others.
"The case of Henry Saunders. Mr. Saunders was arrested in Prince George's County on a robbery charge. And while he was awaiting trial and posted bail... he went out and continued to rob and severely beat an elderly member of our community," she said.
Saunders was eventually convicted and sentenced to 115 years in prison for all his crimes, some of which also took place in neighboring Montgomery County. While Alsobrooks listed other examples, she does note that violent crime is actually at a 30-year low in Prince George's County and across Maryland.
But as she spoke across the street from where Marckel Ross was murdered, she said those statistics offer little solace. "Behind every number is a life. And that is the reason we are here today and why we chose this particular location," she said.
Ross's mother Elizabeth showed up at the announcement, although a little reluctantly.
"The men in blue and white, and gray and white, and brown and white... I understand it is a hard job. I really didn't want to come today. But I had to. Because they have been working very hard for me and my family. And I really appreciate the support that everyone has been giving me over the past year," she said.
Ross's three brothers also attended the press conference.