Heavily guarded Carter returns to court in leg irons BALTIMORE COUNTY

January 22, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Dontay Carter returned to the trial table yesterday, wearing leg irons and surrounded by correctional officers in a courtroom with no windows.

In another change since his last court appearance -- and disappearance -- Carter did not ask to be taken from the courtroom to the bathroom, the official in charge of security reported. Had nature called on Carter, he would have been taken to a toilet in a lockup "which is extremely secure," said Frank Mazzone, assistant commissioner for the state Division of Correction.

Mr. Mazzone, a former deputy state police superintendent, was on hand to call the shots for yesterday's beefed-up security, which subjected everyone entering the courtroom to a weapons search by deputies using hand-held metal detectors.

Three days after the convicted murderer escaped through a window in the bathroom of Judge John N. Prevas' chambers and two days after he was captured, Carter returned for the final day of testimony in his latest kidnapping trial.

He found himself being escorted by different guards into a different courtroom, wearing different clothes and living with a different set of ground rules.

Four Baltimore City Detention Center officers led Carter into a courtroom normally used by Administrative Judge Joseph H. H. Kaplan. Judge Kaplan said that state officials called him to ask for a courtroom without windows and his, located on the renovated second floor of the Old Post Office Building, fit the bill. And, that floor features secured hallways, allowing Carter to be shielded from the public while being brought from a nearby holding cell into court.

Shortly after 11 a.m. four armed Baltimore City Detention Center officers led the handcuffed and shackled defendant into the courtroom, where five sheriff's deputies were already stationed. Wearing a gray sweat shirt, too-long blue jeans and white sneakers -- all prison issue -- Carter took his seat next to his lawyers.

Judge Prevas began the proceedings by saying: "Good morning, Mr. Carter. We've not seen you since sometime Monday, and we welcome you back."

The lawyers then asked Judge Prevas to allow Carter to change into "civilian clothes" and they asked that the shackles be removed from his ankles so as not to prejudice the jury. They also asked the judge to poll the jurors on whether they had been exposed to publicity about Carter's 30 hours on the lam.

Judge Prevas turned them down on all counts. He said he wouldn't declare a mistrial and let Carter benefit from his misbehavior. In ruling that Carter should remain shackled, the judge noted that Carter faces life without parole after being convicted in November of first-degree murder. The judge also cited trial testimony on Carter's history of "unpredictable and erratic" behavior," his outbursts during his previous trial and the chance that Carter could "generally engage in combat with security personnel" during the rest of his current trial.

Carter's trial on charges of attempted first-degree murder and kidnapping in the Feb. 7 abduction of a physician from the Johns Hopkins Hospital parking garage then resumed. The defense called three city police officers to the stand to suggest that proper procedure was not followed in presenting photo arrays of suspects to witnesses. The defense then rested without Carter having taken the stand.

A prosecution witness told the jury Tuesday that Carter escaped. Judge Prevas told the jury yesterday it could consider the "flight" as evidence of guilt. During closing arguments, defense lawyer Jonathan Van Hoven said his client was more scared than guilty. He said: "If you're 19 years old and the world is crashing around you and the walls are closing in sometimes reason doesn't prevail."

Prosecutors Vickie L. Wash and Thurman Zollicoffer said Carter should be convicted based on a confession to police, the victim's identification of him as the culprit and evidence linking him to motorized "dirt bikes" bought with the victim's credit cards. Ms. Wash told the jury, "If you are innocent, ladies and gentlemen, if you are not guilty, why would you run?"

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