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Published: Saturday, 6/2/2007

North Baltimore boy charged in incident

BOWLING GREEN - A 17-year-old North Baltimore boy was charged yesterday with delinquency in connection with vehicular assault and driving with a suspended license stemming from a May 7 incident in which another teen was thrown from the trunk of his car and seriously injured.

Tim Atkins, an assistant Wood County prosecutor, said the youth was reckless when he drove away from the scene of an argument throwing Antorian "Tori" Cobb, 17, of North Baltimore off the trunk of the car and causing serious injury. Young Cobb was flown by medical helicopter to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center after the incident.

While the incident was at first portrayed by some witnesses as a hate crime because young Cobb is African-American and the driver of the car is white, Mr. Atkins said he found no evidence to support that. He said the two young men knew each other and got into an argument when the suspect drove off from young Cobb's George Street home, throwing young Cobb from the trunk of the car.

"In essence it was an argument amongst peers," he said. "I don't know how to characterize if they were once friends, once associates, once acquaintances. It's hard for me to pin down."

Mr. Atkins said he spoke with the victim and his mother and asked them specifically if the incident appeared to be racially motivated, and they agreed that it was not.

He said he would have had to have evidence that the driver of the car set out to hurt young Cobb because of his race in order to charge him with ethnic intimidation.

"The person that we've charged, we believe he was under a license suspension at the time he was driving in a reckless manner and as a result of his reckless driving, he caused serious physical harm to another," Mr. Atkins said.

"It was not a direct hitting or running over, but the person was on the car and was somehow thrown from the car. I would view it as a step above horseplay."

The driver of the vehicle, who is being held in the Wood County Juvenile Detention Center on an unrelated charge, is scheduled to be in juvenile court Tuesday for a hearing.

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