Dundalk doctor found guilty of attacks on two women Jury rejects defense based on denial and hairs on a red shirt.

June 24, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury convicted a Dundalk physician yesterday of kidnapping, daytime housebreaking, assault and battery and related charges.

Leonard C. Harris, 37, could get a maximum of 64 years in prison when he is sentenced by Judge J. William Hinkel.

Harris testified for about an hour Monday in his own defense, telling his version of what happened at a White Marsh apartment complex Nov. 29, 1991. He admitted talking to two women who were yelling at him, but he said he didn't try to kidnap or assault the older woman and didn't break into the younger woman's apartment.

Those crimes, Harris said, were committed by a man he saw running across a field behind the apartment building in the 4400 block of Freestone Lane.

"What he told you happened that day is true, because he is an innocent man," defense attorney Rodney Gaston told the jury. "Why would he throw his life away to break into someone's apartment?"

However, prosecutor Scott Shellenberger told the jury: "To find him not guilty, you would have to find the most incredible series of coincidences ever."

During closing arguments, Mr. Gaston vigorously attacked the prosecution's case and accused police of "railroading" his client. "It's unbelievable what has happened to Dr. Harris over the last seven months, what has happened to his life because of the sloppy police work," Mr. Gaston said. "It's unbelievable."

Mr. Gaston mentioned the red-mesh T-shirt that Harris said he found lying on the ground. A state witness said he saw Harris take off the shirt. However, an FBI expert testified for the defense that hairs found on the shirt do not match Harris' hair.

Also, Mr. Gaston noted the lack of fingerprints in the apartment Harris was accused of breaking into, and a lack of fingerprints on a telephone cord he was accused of taking from that apartment.

Those facts did not impress Mr. Shellenberger. "Of course there were no fingerprints," he said. "He wore gloves."

Mr. Shellenberger also argued that it would be impossible to obtain fingerprints from the phone cord.

The jurors deliberated about five hours Monday night, then returned yesterday and reached their verdict about 2:30 p.m.

Sentencing has yet to be scheduled.

Harris still faces trials, starting today, on charges that he raped three women in attacks in White Marsh and Towson.

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