Thursday, November 13, 2008

Live and Let Live

Fenton: Sterling Clifford "defended yesterday the department's decision to delay notifying Mount Vernon residents of a string of rapes"

"A 19-year-old man will spend four years in prison after pleading guilty to killing a friend in jail last year during a fight over a Monopoly game, authorities said."

"The Maryland Commission on Capital Punishment voted 13-7 Wednesday to recommend abolishing executions in its Dec. 15 report to the governor."

Genius: "The Supreme Court heard argument Monday in a case that could restore gun-ownership rights to some domestic abusers."

"A unanimous Court of Appeals has overturned a first-degree murder conviction, saying the prosecutor violated the defendant’s attorney-client privilege"

Dear readers, is it against the law to threaten a citizen who's not (yet) a criminal witness? In spite of her crap attitude, does this court commissioner woman have a point?

From the SAO:
Today Judge John Prevas sentenced Wayne Morris to the statutory maximum of five years for obstruction of justice and 10 years for conspiracy to commit second-degree assault for attempting to obstruct justice in his murder trial. The sentences will run consecutively and consecutive to the 50-year sentence imposed by Judge John Howard on October 28, 2008 for the second-degree murder of Robert Atkinson, five counts of use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence and other related charges stemming from his participation in an armed home invasion that occurred in April 2006. Details:
A Baltimore city jury found Wayne Morris, 22 of the 300 block of S. Calhoun Street guilty of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit second-degree assault on September 25, 2008. The jury deliberated for approximately one day following testimony. Morris was found not guilty of witness intimidation and second-degree assault. The maximum penalty on all charges under Maryland law is 20 years in prison. Maryland enacted a new law in 2005 that changed the maximum penalty for witness intimidation to 20 years in prison.

Two co-defendants, Thelma Watkins and Audrey Tucker were also charged in the above witness intimidation case. Pursuant to Thelma Watkin’s plea agreement negotiated on October 24, 2008, Watkins received a sentence of 10- years suspend all but 1-year. Audrey Tucker’s case was nolle prossed after she cooperated at both the murder trial and at the witness intimidation trial of Morris.

Following his April 2006 arrest for a home invasion and murder, Morris was charged with witness intimidation, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to commit assault after investigators reviewed more than 36 phone calls Morris made from the Baltimore City Detention Center. In those phone calls, Morris commanded and directed persons to take action against the witnesses in the murder case in an attempt to prevent their testimony in his trial, including a pregnant witness. Morris can be heard in many calls, played in open court, describing how he wanted to get out of jail and come home, and needed help to eliminate witness testimony to thwart his murder case.

The State’s Attorney’s Office has charged over 25 cases of witness intimidation since March of this year, and the problem of witness threats and intimidation continues to affect the prosecution of non-fatal shootings and almost every homicide case according to prosecutors.

Although prosecutors successfully prosecuted 119 gun cases in the FIVE Division (Firearms Investigative Violence Enforcement) between January – June 2008, and secured 70 five year no parole sentences, dozens of cases were dismissed due to legal insufficiency because witnesses did not want to come to court to testify or witnesses changed their statements when called to testify. The difficulty of missing witnesses or witnesses who go “underground” continues to thwart prosecutors.

On August 27, 2008 Morris was convicted of second-degree murder, five counts of use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence, two counts of robbery deadly weapon, two counts of attempted robbery deadly weapon, four counts of assault and four counts of conspiracy to rob in the home invasion.

On April 20, 2006 Morris kicked down the door at 1404 Kuper Street, announced a robbery, and shot and killed an occupant of the home, Robert Atkinson, 47. One victim was pistol-whipped and two victims, including a pregnant woman, were assaulted. All were robbed of various items on their person including cash and cell phones.

A co-defendant, David Marshall, was acquitted of murder, robbery and assault charges in April. Marshall faces first-degree burglary charges in connection to this incident.

Assistant State’s Attorney Theresa Shaffer of the Homicide Division prosecuted these cases.
Ppatin, here's that article about moonlighting cops, in case you missed it
also
buzoncrime: No more police in uniform working for bars/nightclubs!

7 comments:

I am so wise said...

When you hear law enforcement or cops bitching about someone getting off on a "technicality", what they're really saying is that they screwed up, got caught, they got called out on it, and they're mad.

ppatin said...

When you hear i am so wise bitching about anything what he's really saying is that he's an obnoxious troll.

Jack said...

Threatening the average Joe on the street is not necessarily a crime. The crime of assault has elements that must be met - there must be the imminent means to carry out that threat as well as the intent as well as the reasonable belief the threat is going to be carried out. Intent may be inferred by surrounding circumstances but not assumed. For example - if I threaten Joe up the street that I am going to shoot him and then walk away there is no assault. I showed there was no intent by walking away and never displayed any ability to shoot him - would my fear of assault be reasonable? Probably not. Allowing people to be charged with a crime they MIGHT commit in the future treads on dangerous ground. Do we really want to allow the police to arrest someone because they might possess drugs tomorrow? There are exceptions such as law to protect some government officials from threats - hence the O'Malley case.

Anonymous said...

O'Malley's life is worth less than the guys' lives in Pigtown.

The law protecting O'Malley and his fellow politicians just shows us how far government has diverged from the vision and guidance of the Constitution.

We are ALL citizens, right? Fat chance.

Sebastian-PGP said...

Jack, if actual intent and means are the standard you want to apply, pretty clearly it's been met. These guys have violent priors and long criminal histories, and have already brandished weapons at us.

There's no slippery slope here--if you're a career drug dealing criminal with a history of violent behavior, I don't think we're opening Pandora's Box when we say it's safe to assume the intent and means may well be present.

Even if we learn that it doesn't constitute 2nd degree assault to do what they did (and in other cases we have had drug dealers arrested for threatening us...so other the court commissioner was wrong then or she's wrong now), it certainly IS a violation of probation.

Which is why these dipshits will soon find themselves in cuffs.

Jack said...

Sebastian - the violation of probation route is much easier. The burden is less since it is a civil proceeding therefore there is no "beyond a reasonable doubt" issue and the thug does not have the option of being tried by a thug hugging Baltimore City jury.

As for the Commissioner's inconsistency - these folks are not lawyers nor are they required to have legal training. In fact the head Commissioner does not even have a college degree. I suspect if they charged someone with similar facts in the past that person was not convicted nor tried by the State's Attorney's Office. Intent can be inferred by the totality of the circumstances but if the guy brandishes a weapon and then walks away there is no intent to carry out that threat imminently. It is a tough call and sometimes the Commissioner will err on the side of caution and charge. You guys over there in Pigtown are fighting the good fight so keep it up and don't be discouraged by the negative crap on the blogs.

Sebastian-PGP said...

Jack, you're on the money re: the VOP route, but in point of fact Nathan and I are both witnesses in cases that the SAO is pursuing against several drug dealers for those threat arrests. So they do prosecute those cases.

And the SAO would probably argue with your definition of imminent.