Detective Says Fowlkes Called Howard 'Kkk Territory' Lawyers Explore Defendant's Motives On Night Of Shooting

November 14, 1990|By Michael James | Michael James,Staff writer

A county police detective testified yesterday that Jeffrey Louis Fowlkes, the Army specialist accused of murder in a shooting spree at a Glenelg party May 20, labeled Howard County "Ku Klux Klan territory" on the night he was arrested.

"He was very inquisitive and kept asking, 'What's going on? Did I kill somebody or something?' " said county police Detective Roger Gleason.

Gleason said Fowlkes, who is black, made the Ku Klux Klan comment while waiting in a car to be transported to police headquarters.

The alleged comment was heard in a trial that has focused on why Fowlkes -- who witnesses say made angry statements about country residents while firing the shots -- was spurred to violence during a visit to the suburbs.

Yesterday, during the third day of the trial before Judge Raymond J.

Kane Jr., defense and prosecution battled over whether Fowlkes was intoxicated during the shootings, which killed 21-year-old Joseph Taylor of Cooksville.

Fowlkes had a "moderate odor of alcohol" on his breath when he was booked at the scene of the shooting, within an hour after several shots were fired into a large crowd, Gleason testified. He added, however, that Fowlkes did not appear to be impaired by alcohol.

At the request of Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell, who maintains that Fowlkes fired the shots calmly while being egged on by his friends, Gleason recalled that Fowlkes spoke clearly, walked straight and answered questions coherently after his arrest.

"He said he wanted to stop the confusion . . . He called himself a peacemaker," Gleason said. "He said he fired five shots into the air."

Police and witnesses thus far in the trial have said that Fowlkes fired warning shots from a 9mm handgun, then turned the gun on the party crowd.

The beer bash, attended by about 200 people, was held by the Brenda Burgess family in the 13100 block of Triadelphia Road.

Fowlkes, 23, a Baltimore City resident and specialist at the Fort Lee Army base in Petersburg, Va., went to the party at the request of a cousin.

O'Donnell said several city residents accompanied him and encouraged him to shoot into the crowd when fist-fighting broke out among partygoers.

Taylor was killed by a gunshot wound to the neck, and one other man, William Shird, 20, of Baltimore, lost his spleen and a kidney after being shot in the back.

Defense attorney Richard Winelander, who has contested police methods of information gathering throughout the trial, said no blood-alcohol tests were taken on Fowlkes despite the fact that police found an empty pint bottle of vodka in his car after his arrest.

Winelander said Fowlkes was one of several people who fired a weapon at the scene. Witnesses' statements support that story, although police found only 9mm shell casings on the lawn of the residence -- a fact that points to improper collection of evidence, Winelander said.

During a cross-examination of county police crime lab technician Kenneth R. Francisco, Winelander remarked, "You concentrated your efforts on gathering 9mm evidence," even though information later indicated that a shotgun and a .38 was also fired.

Francisco said he received no information about other weapons when he conducted the search for shell casings, although he said a metal detector would likely have produced other metal casings if they had been present "whether I was looking for them or not."

Winelander has admitted that Fowlkes committed "a stupid act" when he went to his car, got his gun out and began firing it in the hope of restoring order at the party. Alcohol partly clouded Fowlkes' better judgment, Winelander said.

Fowlkes told police that he has carried a weapon with him since an incident in Baltimore several years ago in which he was shot in the chest by someone who mistook him for someone else.

Gleason testified he recovered the 9mm handgun, which was cocked and ready to fire, under the car seat during Fowlkes' arrest on Route 144 a short distance from the party.

The trial is expected to conclude Friday.

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