‘No Justification’ for Co-Defendants’ Attack in Fell’s Point, Prosecutor Says

Baltimore Courthouse

At the start of attempted homicide defendant Luciano Bruno’s trial on Feb. 1, counsel were at odds with one another over who started the fight that ended with a non-fatal shooting in Fell’s Point in January 2022.

Bruno, 27, is the third co-defendant to be tried in connection to an attempted murder on the 1700 block of Thames Street, following the completed trials of Joel Duncan and Nathan Presberry, both 26. In addition to attempted murder, Bruno is facing multiple counts of assault and several weapons charges.

In the prosecution’s eyes, Bruno and Duncan were the instigators in the incident that began at The Admiral’s Cup restaurant and bar around 1 a.m. on Jan. 15, 2022. Staff and security soon kicked the two men out of the bar, both of whom then got into a 2019 Toyota RAV4 with Presberry and 32-year-old Ronald Maranto. The vehicle slowly drove westbound toward the Sound Garden, where its occupants made a U-turn and backed into a parking spot near Sagamore Pendry.

“[The co-defendants] wanted to continue this fight outside,” the prosecutor told the jury during Wednesday’s opening statements. “There was no reason for this to happen. No justification.”

Now outside, the three victims allegedly saw the vehicle speed out of the parking spot and stop six to 10 feet in front of them, said the prosecutor, who noted that the jury would see video surveillance footage that captured muzzle flashes coming from the vehicle before driving away.

The prosecution said that Maranto’s wallet was later found at the scene after he had fallen out of the vehicle when it made a turn onto N. Broadway.

Bruno’s defense attorney, Andre Mahasa, responded to the prosecution’s opening statement, saying he only agreed with two of his statements: the location of the incident and that the shooting did not have to happen.

“In court, as every day in life, there’s always two sides to every story,” Mahasa continued, and from his point of view, it was the alleged victims who “attacked” Bruno and Duncan inside The Admiral’s Cup.

Mahasa agreed that the co-defendants left the bar and got into the Toyota RAV4 with their friends; however, he said, they were slowly driving around to look for a parking spot so they could continue on with their night—not search for the victims as the prosecution said. When the victims saw the co-defendants’ vehicle, the three men retrieved weapons from their vehicle before banging on the Toyota RAV4 and breaking out a window.

“[The victims] didn’t call police or security after the fight at The Admiral’s Cup,” Mahasa said. “They were going to handle it themselves.”

Defense counsel concluded that the jury would not have any forensic, fingerprint, or gun evidence shown by the prosecution over the course of the trial.

Testimony began Wednesday morning before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Christopher Panos and was expected to continue into the afternoon and resume on Feb. 3.

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