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Md. neighborhood watch trial set against Fla. fury

Two brothers accused of beating a black teenager while patrolling an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood are set to go on trial Monday in a case with similarities to the Trayvon Martin shooting.

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Two brothers accused of beating a black teenager while patrolling an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood are set to go on trial Monday in a case with similarities to the Trayvon Martin shooting.

The brothers, who are white and Jewish, have claimed self-defense, saying the teen was holding a nail-studded board. Local civil rights activists hope the Martin case will draw more attention to what they believe was racial profiling by neighborhood watch vigilantes.

Eliyahu and Avi Werdesheim are accused of beating a 15-year-old boy who was walking through a Baltimore neighborhood in November 2010. The brothers pulled up next to the teen in a vehicle, then got out and "surrounded him," according to charging documents. The passenger threw the teen to the ground and the driver hit him in the head with a hand-held radio and patted him down.

The teen remembered the driver yelling, "You wanna [mess] with us, you don't belong around here, get outta here!" according to court documents, which do not identify which brother was driving.

While the teen struggled, a third man got out of a van and kneed the teen, pinning him to the ground. The teen told police that he stopped struggling and the third man continued to search him, while the teen insisted he didn't have anything on him.

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Eliyahu Werdesheim told the Baltimore Jewish Times that he was acting in self-defense because the teen was holding the piece of wood. The teen picked up the board during the encounter, but put it back down, said J. Wyndal Gordon, an attorney for the teen's family. He said the family did not want to speak publically.

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