June 02, 1993

Court ruling paves way for murder retrial

The Court of Special Appeals has denied a request by the Anne Arundel County state's attorney to reverse a judge's order, clearing the way for a new trial for a Pasadena man convicted of murder.

The appeals court upheld Friday a Circuit Court decision granting a new trial to Bernard L. Ward Jr., who was convicted of first-degree murder in 1989.

William C. Mulford II, assistant state's attorney, said yesterday that the only avenue of appeal left is to the U.S. Supreme Court and that he is evaluating that option.

If the appeal is ruled out, Mr. Mulford said, he probably will retry the case rather than let Ward go free.

Ward, who remains held without bail, entered an Alford plea in the slaying of Edward Brewer. Under such pleas, the defendant does not admit guilt but concedes that the state has sufficient evidence to convict him.

Mr. Brewer was beaten and stabbed to death in an abandoned house on Crain Highway about midnight Nov. 15, 1988. His nude corpse was found a month later.

Ward has maintained his innocence, saying he was in Floria on the night of the slaying. He said that statements to Florida sheriff's deputies after his arrest, in which he implicated himself, were coerced. One witness who said he saw Ward with the victim the night of the killing has since recanted.

Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. ruled Nov. 13, 1992, that the legal representation of Ward by his former attorney, George Kariotis, was so ineffective and unprofessional that the 1989 trial was unjust.

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

As a result, Judge Heller said, Ward was forced into a no-win situation when the prosecutor offered a life sentence rather than life without parole.

Mr. Kariotis was unavailable for comment yesterday.

Gunshots hit car, basement window

Police are looking for witnesses to an early-morning shooting Saturday that damaged a car and a home in the 7700 block of Gatewood Court.

According to the police report, a resident called officers at 5:16 a.m. after she heard gunshots. When they arrived, the officers found four bullet holes in the back window of a 1986 Volvo. Several bullets also went through the basement window of the woman's home, police said, but no one was injured.

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