Judge refuses to grant Ward bail Action will hinge on new trial ruling

December 01, 1992|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

A man whose murder conviction was overturned last month was denied bail yesterday, after a judge said a state appeals court must still decide whether to grant a new trial.

Bernard L. Ward Jr., who tentatively won a new trial Nov. 13, was ordered held without bond yesterday by Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr.

Judge Thieme said he was not going to permit Ward's release before the Court of Special Appeals decides whether to grant him a new trial.

"I'll reconsider it when the Court of Special Appeals acts on the matter," Judge Thieme told Ward's attorney, Fred Heyman.

Ward pleaded guilty under an Alford plea to the 1988 slaying of Edward Brewer and is serving a life term. Under such pleas, the defendant does not admit guilt, but concedes the state has enough evidence to convict him.

Mr. Brewer was beaten and stabbed to death in an abandoned house on Crain Highway in Glen Burnie around midnight on Nov. 15, 1988. His nude corpse was discovered in the house a month later.

In a 22-page opinion released Nov. 13, Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. wrote that the representation of Ward by his former attorney, George Kariotis, was so ineffective and unprofessional that the 1989 trial was unjust.

As a result, Ward was forced into a "no-win" situation when the prosecutor offered a life sentence, rather than life without parole, the judge wrote. But for Mr. Kariotis' errors, "the result of the trial might well have been different," Judge Heller wrote.

Assistant State's Attorney William C. Mulford II said yesterday he will appeal Judge Heller's ruling to the Court of Special Appeals. He agreed Ward should not be released, saying yesterday that evidence shows Ward poses a risk of flight and is a danger to the community.

Since his incarceration in the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup, Ward has tested positive for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. He has not developed the fatal disease.

Ward has maintained his innocence, saying he was in Florida when Mr. Brewer was murdered.

Ward was arrested Dec. 16, 1988, in Tallahassee, Fla., after a witness told police he saw him with Mr. Brewer in Baltimore the night he disappeared. That witness has since recanted.

Another witness near the crime scene told police he saw Ward on the night of the murder.

After his arrest by Florida sheriff's deputies, Ward gave a statement about the crime implicating himself. But many details in the statement were incorrect, and Ward later claimed the statement was coerced by deputies.

In his opinion, Judge Heller listed four pages of lapses by Mr. Kariotis, who has since been disbarred for unrelated reasons.

The lawyer failed to question witnesses, didn't object once during the four-day trial and met with Ward only briefly before the trial, according to the list.

Mr. Kariotis was unavailable for comment.

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