A Baltimore police officer who helped provide an alibi in court for a murder defendant who was later acquitted has been charged with committing perjury in the case, officials said yesterday.
Officer Steven L. Turner, 28, was taken to the Central District lockup on Tuesday, processed and charged with misdemeanor perjury, said Dennis S. Hill, a police spokesman. Officer Turner was then placed on administrative duties at the Western District police station where he is assigned, Mr. Hill said.
Officer Turner, a four-year veteran of the Police Department, testified
as a defense witness for Ronald Lawrence "Reds" Preston, 25, who was charged with killing a 23-year-old man last April and with seriously wounding the victim's mother and a friend during a robbery.
During Mr. Preston's trial in Baltimore Circuit Court last month, Officer Turner was one of six defense witnesses who testified that the defendant was at a house in the 900 block of North Stricker Street on the day of the murder. Officer Turner said he went to the house to serve a warrant on another man wanted for violation of probation, according to Sharon D. Smith, the prosecutor in the case. But, Miss Smith said, departmental records showed that Officer Turner did not serve the warrant that day because he was on medical leave. Two other police officers testified that they were in fact the ones who had served the warrant on the man and that Mr. Preston had not been present, she said.
"He [Officer Turner] was made aware prior to testifying that we knew he was on medical leave and he testified anyway," Ms. Smith said.
The jury deliberated only an hour before acquitting Mr. Preston of the 1200 block of Kitmore Road, on March 27 after a weeklong trial. The murder for which Mr. Preston was acquitted occurred on April 24, 1990, when two men -- one of them armed with a handgun -- forced their way into a house in the 800 block of North Caroline Street, the police said.
The two men handcuffed 51-year-old Bertha Moore and then ransacked the house looking for money and other valuables.
About two hours after entering the row house, Bertha Moore's son, Vincent Maurice Moore, 23, went to the house with a friend, Calvin Hill, 29, to check on her. One of the assailants looked out the window, saw Mr. Moore and Mr. Hill entering the house and shouted, "It's show time," according to testimony.
Mr. Hill testified in court that upon entering the house he and Mr. Moore were robbed and then forced to lie on the floor. One robber then told the gunman "do what you gotta do," Mr. Hill said.
The gunman then fired seven shots at both men on the floor and then turned the gun on Mrs. Moore. The two robbers fled through the back door and jumped into a black car driven by a third suspect.
Mr. Moore died at the scene. His mother and Mr. Hill recovered from their wounds and separately identified Mr. Preston from photographs as their assailant.
Mr. Preston was arrested April 30 while attending Mr. Moore's funeral at a church on North Avenue.
Ms. Smith said that during the trial, a defense witness, Lecount Grace, testified that Officer Turner had been the policeman who served the warrant on him at his house on Stricker Street for parole violation on the night of the murder and that the defendant, Mr. Preston, had been there too.
Mr. Preston's girlfriend, two other women, as well as another man also claimed to have been there with Mr. Preston, Ms. Smith said.
Officer Turner testified that he could recall Mr. Preston being at the house because Officer Turner had requested his identification while serving the warrant on Mr. Grace, according to Ms. Smith.
Officer Turner could not be reached for comment yesterday.