On January 9, 2016, just after 9:00 PM in the 3300 block of Old York Road, Baltimore Police were dispatched to the scene of a stabbing. When the officer arrived, he found the victim—Robert Ponsi— lying on the sidewalk with stab wounds to his neck and chest. The victim was taken to the hospital where he died.
An investigation into the victim’s death revealed that as Ponsi was riding his bike on Old York Road, he was approached by several males. As the group of males surrounded him, the victim got off his bike and swung it at the group to try and fend off his attackers. The victim then fell to the ground and was punched, kicked, stabbed and stomped. The group fled the scene with several items belonging to the victim, including his bike.
A witness to the crime tried to render aid to the victim until a medic arrived.
Shortly after the attack, Baltimore Police found Eldridge and Middleton a few blocks away. After leading officers to the victim's bike, Eldridge was taken to police headquarters, where he waived his Miranda rights and stated that he and Middleton attacked the victim. Middleton, who was stabbed on his right calf during the scuffle, admitted to being one of the attackers.
“While it is important for us to do all we can to divert juveniles capable of rehabilitation out of the criminal justice system, we also must ensure those who commit violent crimes are appropriately held responsible for their actions,” said State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “Due to the heinous nature of this crime, the perpetrators should have been tried in the adult system as they were; and I am thankful that the Court agreed and denied these juvenile transfer motions.”
During the 2017 legislative session, the Office of the State’s Attorney for Baltimore City successfully opposed SB215/HB471, which would have eliminated automatic adult jurisdiction for juveniles in cases of robbery, assault, and gun crimes. While the Office supports efforts to reform the juvenile justice system and seek rehabilitation over incarceration for youth offenders, it supports removal from the community, if warranted, in order to protect Baltimore City residents. Juvenile Division Chief Gavin Patashnick testified in Annapolis in opposition of this legislation, and neither bill passed.
Both, Middleton and Eldridge, were sentenced following the transfer motions hearings this week.
Dawn Ponsi, mother of Robert Ponsi, was present and provided victim impact statements.
Eldridge was sentenced to eight years suspend all but five years with five years of probation. Middleton was sentenced to 13 years for his first degree assault conviction and a consecutive sentence of four years suspended with five years of probation on the robbery conviction. The state’s recommendation was the maximum of 55 years for each defendant.