For Edward Milton Brown III, courtroom attire is a torn sweat shirt, dirty jeans and mud-stained cowboy boots. Dressed for the occasion, the former Pimlico jockey took the witness stand yesterday and offered some of the most humorous -- and chilling -- testimony heard thus far in the Dontay Carter murder trial.
Spectators and courtroom personnel laughed aloud at Mr. Brown's turns of phrase and his off-color account of a Feb. 15 drinking binge that landed him in jail, charged with drunken driving. Even Carter laughed at the 34-year-old Northeast Baltimore man's performance.
But no one was laughing when Mr. Brown said he overheard Carter, a teen-ager charged with the Feb. 11 kidnapping and beating death of a father of four, talking to a friend in a holding cell.
"That white . . . he deserved to die for running his mouth," Carter said, according to Mr. Brown's testimony. "The more he run his mouth, the more I nailed him."
Prosecutors have presented evidence intended to show that Carter, who is black, carried out a plan to rob and kill white men.
Mr. Brown, who said he eventually served 28 days in jail for his second drunken-driving conviction, said Carter made the remarks in a holding cell while both awaited a bail review hearing in Eastside District Court. Later, he told reporters, "This guy was an animal. He was just bragging about it."
When it was his turn to question the witness, defense attorney John S. Deros sought to show that Mr. Brown, who had approached detectives with his information, should not be believed. Mr. Deros began by asking about the former jockey's racing career, and then he focused on a winning day at the track that led to a night at the bars and a weekend behind bars.
Mr. Brown said he won his first race as a jockey in 1978 -- "Broke my maiden, broke my maiden," he shouted at Mr. Deros, fTC apparently assuming everyone should be familiar with the term. (It was his only win in 48 mounts that year, according to the Racing Form.) He testified that he stopped racing after a 1991 spill left him with a broken collarbone, and he stretched the neck of his sweat shirt to display his scars. He said he now exercises thoroughbreds at a Harford County farm.
Mr. Brown said he took his $139 disability check to Pimlico Feb. 14 to wager on simulcast races and "parlayed it into about $400; I was hot."
He said he started drinking beer at the track, and then continued throughout the night, arguing with his girlfriend before closing the Jewel Box bar on The Block, where his friend "Jewel Box Joe" poured the drinks.
Asked whether he stuck with beer or had any mixed drinks during the night, Mr. Brown prompted laughter by answering, "I think I interjected a few." Describing his frustration with his performance in a roadside sobriety test, he recalled, "I said, 'Aw, I've been drinking. Arrest me.' "
Asked whether he had felt poorly after his Friday night binge, Mr. Brown said, "I don't usually get hangovers. By Saturday evening I was chipper."
Throughout his stint on the stand he addressed everyone with terms of endearment. Responding to an instruction from Judge John N. Prevas, he said, "All right, boss." When Mr. Deros asked him whether he was on probation for drunken driving, he said: "I got hung. I got a year suspended, pal."
When he finished questioning the witness, Mr. Deros said, "Thank you. Good luck."
Mr. Brown responded: "Thank you and good luck to you. Can I go? I got a hockey game to go to."
The laughter in the courtroom died quickly with the next witness, Assistant Medical Examiner Margarita A. Korell. Vitalis V. Pilius is the man whom Carter is accused of killing and Dr. Korell said that Mr. Pilius died of strangulation and blunt force trauma.
Dr. Korell said Mr. Pilius suffered bleeding and swelling of the brain, explaining: "That's waterlogging of the brain. That's what eventually causes the death of the person."