Carter's legal battles go on after conviction

November 22, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

The verdict may be in on Dontay Carter, but the court battles are just beginning in the kidnapping spree laid to the East Baltimore teen-ager.

Still to come: Two more trials for Carter, already a convicted killer, a trial for his co-defendant in the Feb. 7 abduction and slaying of Vitalis V. Pilius and two more trials for his co-defendants in an earlier kidnapping.

Also, a hearing on Carter's motion for a new trial in his murder case and his sentencing, which will come only after all the trials have been completed. After that, an appeal is likely.

These will require hours upon hours of court time. The monthlong Carter murder trial was only the start.

All five remaining trials had been scheduled for last Thursday -- two days after Carter was convicted in the beating death of Mr. Pilius. Because prosecutors Vickie L. Wash and Thurman Zollicoffer couldn't prosecute five trials at once, they and the defense lawyers spent two days scurrying between courtrooms, seeking postponements and nailing down court dates.

It wasn't easy, not with vacations and doctors' appointments and previously scheduled court appearances.

On Friday, after two days of juggling their calendars, the lawyers and the judges finally agreed on a schedule -- even if it means working until 8 p.m. every night to squeeze in the first of the trials.

That would be the Clarence Woodward case. Like Carter, he was charged in the Feb. 11 slaying of Mr. Pilius.

The 17-year-old will stand trial Nov. 30, assuming the transcript of the Carter trial is ready for his lawyer's inspection.

Next in line would be Damien "Day Day" Daniels, charged along with Carter in the Feb. 7 abduction of Daniel Ford, a Johns Hopkins Hospital doctor choked and left for dead in the trunk of his car. The 18-year-old is scheduled to stand trial Dec. 2 -- but he is weighing an offer to plead guilty to attempted first-degree murder in return for a 12-year sentence.

In any event, his trial probably won't happen then, because the Woodward trial is expected to last a few weeks.

There's Dwayne Reid, 19, also charged in the Ford kidnapping. A February trial date is no good for him because he's not interested in a plea bargain, and he wants to be tried as quickly as possible, he told Judge John N. Prevas.

"I'm ready to go. I'm ready to book," he told Judge Prevas Friday.

His trial is scheduled for Dec. 9.

Finally, there's Carter, who is to receive separate trials in the Ford kidnapping and the Feb. 14 abduction of jeweler Douglas R. Legenhausen.

Both trials are scheduled for Jan. 8; prosecutors will decide later which case will be heard on that date.

Carter is also scheduled to be in court Dec. 17 for a hearing on a motion for a new trial in the Pilius case. Judge Prevas said he will not sentence Carter, who faces life in prison with no chance for parole, until all his trials and those of his co-defendants' are concluded.

If things ever get that far, be certain Carter will appeal his murder conviction.

Ms. Wash, the prosecutor, sat slumped in a chair in the jury box in Judge Prevas' courtroom Friday afternoon.

She likened the challenge of unraveling the mess and assigning court dates to one of those children's puzzles with tiles the player slides around, trying to arrange into a design.

She looked tired.

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