Officer testifying 9 months after nearly being slain

June 18, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Although a prosecutor says Officer James E. Young Jr. can't remember the shooting that nearly killed him, the officer is to testify today in the trial of the man accused as his assailant.

As prosecutor Donald J. Giblin told Baltimore Circuit Court jurors yesterday: "He can't tell you what happened because his brain was half blown off in this incident."

The "incident," a Sept. 18, 1992, shooting in the Flag House Courts public housing project, left the 26-year-old officer partially blind, partially paralyzed and suffering from "traumatic amnesia," Giblin added.

Defense lawyer Jack B. Rubin unsuccessfully sought a ruling to bar the officer's testimony, arguing that it would not advance the cause of determining what happened in that Southeast Baltimore high rise. "The only purpose would be to stir the juices of the jury," he told Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe.

But Judge Bothe said she was not about to bar a victim from testifying at trial.

The exchange between judge and lawyer came yesterday, before the start of opening statements and testimony in the trial of Sean L. Little.

Mr. Little, 22, is charged with assault to elude arrest, possession of a handgun and possession of heroin with intent to distribute. Charges of assault with intent to murder and resisting arrest were dropped Wednesday.

The events surrounding the shooting, as described yesterday by Mr. Giblin, differed from initial police accounts that said Mr. Little seized the plainclothes officer's gun and then shot him in the head.

The prosecutor said Officer Young, while attempting to arrest Mr. Little on drug charges, hit the suspect in the head with his gun. The prosecutor said the suspect then made an unsuccessful attempt to flee before the officer caught him and a struggle ensued.

"During the course of that struggle, Officer Young's gun, which is still in his hand, is discharged," Mr. Giblin told the jury. He did not say who pulled the trigger of the 9 mm Glock handgun. But the prosecutor said that it was Mr. Little's refusal to submit to arrest that led to the shooting.

Mr. Rubin then approached the jury and, reading from a statement that Mr. Little gave to police, said, "He just scared me with that gun because he told me he was going to kill me with that gun."

Mr. Rubin told the jury: "You do have the right to survive. That's what this case is all about: survival."

Little is the only one of three suspects charged in the shooting to be brought to trial.

Two other suspects pleaded guilty in March to drug charges after evidence showed they were not directly involved in the shooting. One of those initial suspects, 16-year-old Vernon Silver, is to testify against Mr. Little.

The first witness in the trial, Officer Young's partner, Officer Charles Green, said he went to the third-tier hallway and saw the fallen officer lying motionless in a pool of blood emanating from his head.

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