One man's indictment drags 2 others of the same name into court mix-up Judge to rule right Kevin Wilson HOWARD COUNTY

November 06, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Will the right Kevin Wilson please come to court?

That's the question a Howard County Circuit Court judge may pose today in a case involving three men named Kevin Wilson.

Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr. will hear a request by a defense attorney to drop drug charges against one man named Kevin Wilson that were meant for another man with the same name.

But the prosecutor says he won't do it until one of the Kevin Wilsons is sentenced.

The bizarre case is a result of mix-ups between the Howard State's Attorney's Office and the Baltimore City Detention Center, which twice sent the wrong man to appear in court.

"This is an unusual and unfortunate circumstance," said Howard Circuit Judge James Dudley, who handled a previous hearing in the case. "It's one of those rare things."

The case started when a county grand jury indicted Kevin J. Wilson, 24, of the 100 block of Bridge Drive in Baltimore, on May 21.

Mr. Wilson was one of 33 people charged as part of a

$1.5-million-a-week drug ring that operated between January 1990 and last May. He was charged with six counts of conspiracy to distribute heroin and fentanyl, an opiate substitute.

At the time of his indictment, he was being held on other charges at the Baltimore City Detention Center, according to court records.

This is where the second Kevin Wilson comes in.

When county prosecutors asked in June that Mr. Wilson be transported for arraignment in Howard in June, jail officials sent another man with the same name who was being held in a different case.

The 30-year-old Kevin Wilson who appeared in court said he knew nothing of the charges being lodged against him, but was arraigned anyway. So he hired a lawyer, Thomas K. Swisher, to deal with a problem that was only going to get worse.

Mr. Swisher said he notified Assistant State's Attorney Bernard L. Taylor of the error and provided his client's birth date, inmate number, description and other information as evidence.

Although Mr. Taylor said he would not prosecute the second Kevin Wilson and promised to have the charges removed, they never were, Mr. Swisher said.

Meanwhile, the case was scheduled for a pre-trial hearing before Judge Dudley.

Enter Kevin Wilson Number Three.

Mr. Swisher and the 30-year-old Kevin Wilson were present for the hearing, as well as a third man named Kevin Wilson, records show -- but it still wasn't the right one. The detention center had managed to find yet a third inmate named Kevin Wilson.

The attorney urged Judge Dudley to release his client, but the judge refused.

"They wanted me to use a judicial wand to authorize the release of Kevin Wilson," the judge said. "I couldn't accept a defense lawyer's representation when I had no way of confirming who was the right one," he said.

"It's ridiculous," said Mr. Swisher. "It's almost an atrocity . . . The [prosecutor] knows what needs to be done, but simply refuses to do anything about it."

Mr. Taylor said he will drop the charges against Mr. Swisher's client -- but not until the Kevin Wilson who was originally indicted is sentenced in a related case in Baltimore next month.

Mr. Taylor blames the detention center.

"They just keep producing the wrong guy," he said. "I can't do anything more than I have done."

Mr. Taylor said he is waiting for the city case to be closed before dropping the Howard case, thus freeing the other men mistakenly tied to the case, Mr. Taylor said.

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