A lawyer for a Maryland college is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a man attacked on campus by a baseball bat-wielding student, saying it wasn’t the school’s responsibility to protect him.
Joshua Ceasar, 23, was left partially blind after he was attacked in a dorm on Morgan State University’s Baltimore campus in 2012. It came days before the student attacker, Alexander Kinyua, told authorities he killed a man staying with his family and ate the man’s heart and parts of his brain.
Ceasar filed a lawsuit against the university in late February. His attorney, Steven Silverman, wrote that Morgan State ignored “escalating warning signs” that Kinyua was “unstable and violent and posed a threat to others.”
A lawyer for the school, a historically black college with an undergraduate population of approximately 6,600, said in court documents filed last week that the lawsuit should be thrown out.
“It is well-established in Maryland that student-initiated assaults on state university campuses, like the occurrence described in the complaint, are not foreseeable, and thus, no duty to protect the injured party can be imposed,” wrote the lawyer, Corlie McCormick Jr. of Maryland’s Office of the Attorney General.
According to Ceasar’s lawsuit, Kinyua began to exhibit strange and violent behavior in fall 2011, including posting “bizarre and troubling” messages on Facebook and Twitter about weapons and world destruction. In December, he “punched holes in the office walls” of a campus computer lab and was kicked out of an ROTC program as a result. Later, during a campus forum, Kinyua made cryptic comments about “blood sacrifice,” the lawsuit says, and campus police searched his dorm room after a person fitting his description was seen with a machete.
On May 19, Kinyua attacked Ceasar at the Thurgood Marshall Apartments, a campus dorm, beating him with a baseball bat covered in barbed wire and chains. Ceasar, a former Morgan State student from Egg Harbor Township, N.J., who had transferred to another school, was visiting Kinyua’s roommates for graduation festivities. The lawsuit says friends heard screams and found Kinyua standing over Ceasar with a knife.
Kinyua has pleaded guilty but not criminally responsible for the attack on Ceasar and, as a result, has been committed indefinitely to a psychiatric hospital.
He is also expected to plead guilty but not criminally responsible to killing 37-year-old Kujoe Bonsafo Agyei-Kodie of Ghana who had been staying with Kinyua’s family. A plea hearing in that case in Harford County is set for June 24.