Prosecutors drop charge in boy's killing

March 04, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Citing a lack of evidence, prosecutors dropped a murder charge yesterday against a convicted sex offender held since December in the stabbing death of an 11-year-old West Baltimore boy.

Warren C. Berry, 30, remains a suspect in the investigation into the death of Michael Shawn Gasque -- and subject to arrest if additional evidence surfaces -- prosecutor Timothy J. Doory said after a preliminary hearing in Baltimore District Court. The boy's body was found Dec. 18 in an abandoned shed in a wooded area near his home in Edmondson Village.

During the hearing, Mr. Doory told Judge David W. Young: "I unfortunately have to tell you, in the most distasteful decision I have ever had to make as an assistant state's attorney, the evidence is insufficient to hold him at this time."

Berry, who was released in January 1991 after serving 11 years of a 15-year sentence for a sex offense, was arrested on unrelated drug and handgun charges after the boy's body was found. Berry, who, according to police and members of the slain boy's family, befriended and played basketball with the neighborhood children and appeared to be the last person seen with Michael, was charged with first-degree murder a day later.

Attempts to identify blood, hair, fibers or any other physical evidence linking the suspect to the victim or the crime scene have been unsuccessful, Mr. Doory said.

The drug and handgun charges also were dropped yesterday after Berry's mother testified that items seized by police had come from another of her son's rooms in her house in the 3900 block of Glenhunt Road.

Mr. Doory declined to say whether the boy, a fifth-grader at Rognel Heights Elementary School, was sexually assaulted.

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