Defendant ‘Refuses to Accept Personal Responsibility’ for 13-Year-Old Girl’s Murder, Judge Says at Sentencing

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Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Charles H. Dorsey III sentenced a 36-year-old man to life plus 35 years on Feb. 6 after the defendant’s conviction last year for the murder of 13-year-old Kelsey Washington.

On Nov. 7, 2022, Washington was shot and killed while selling Joe Corbi’s pizzas at the corner of North Caroline and East Fayette streets, where Tavon Battle had engaged in a firefight with a 29-year-old man. Washington was shot in the head and died from her injuries, while the other victim was treated at a nearby hospital.

Following a four-day trial in November 2023, a jury convicted Battle of first-degree murder, firearm use in a felony or violent crime, firearm possession with a felony conviction and having a handgun on his person.

Battle and his defense attorney, Jason Silverstein, appeared in court Tuesday morning when the defendant was sentenced to life for first-degree murder, a consecutive 20 years, the first five years without parole, for firearm use in a felony or violent crime and a consecutive 15 years, the first five years without parole, for firearm possession with a felony conviction. The remaining handgun charged merged with Battle’s firearm use charge.

The prosecutor highlighted Battle’s extensive criminal history, beginning in 2006 after which he was convicted of drug possession with the intent to distribute the next year. Additional drug and trespassing charges followed in coming years until Battle was convicted of an armed robbery in 2014—an incident the prosecutor said occurred at the same intersection where Washington was killed.

The prosecutor noted that Battle was released from prison 10 days before the 2022 homicide.

“He has no interest in abiding by any laws,” she said.

Prior to his client’s sentencing, Silverstein requested Judge Dorsey sentence Battle to life, suspending all but a set amount of time. The defense attorney said he understands the prosecution asking for such a lengthy sentence as it was a similar tactic he used as a former prosecutor. However, Silverstein said he now tries to consider the impact of a sentencing on both parties.

“Courts do have to punish people,” defense counsel said. “But, I also believe something should be put in front of [Battle] to give him incentive to better himself.”

During a brief statement, Battle claimed the prosecution falsified documents by saying witnesses identified him as a shooter, yet no one identified him at trial. The defendant likened this outcome to that of his armed robbery conviction, adding that the victim in that case later recanted.

Judge Dorsey agreed with the prosecution’s requested sentence, acknowledging Battle still “refuses to accept personal responsibility” after all of this time.

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