Missing juror was at home Gorwell case is put on brink

August 07, 1993|By Jay Apperson and Gregory P. Kane | Jay Apperson and Gregory P. Kane,Staff Writers

Baltimore Police Officer Edward T. Gorwell II's manslaughter trial teetered on the brink of mistrial yesterday when a juror who failed to show up for the second day of deliberations was apprehended at his home and brought to court for closed-door conferences with the judge and lawyers in the case.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Ellen M. Heller and Henry L. Belsky, lawyer for the police officer, refused after the conferences to say whether a mistrial had been declared.

"We'll see Monday morning," said prosecutor Timothy J. Doory said.

Mr. Belsky said he's "been practicing for 27 years and this is a new one for me. Any time you have a high profile case and a juror doesn't show up, it's pretty unique.

"On Monday everyone will be in court and we will decide what to do. Decisions have not been made."

Yesterday's events, which began when juror Malcolm Boykin could not be located at the court, his home or his work, added a touch of intrigue to an already controversial case.

The juror, identified in court records as a 36-year-old maintenance worker, was taken into custody about 4 p.m. yesterday at his home in the Cedonia section of Northeast Baltimore, sources said. Mr. Boykin's arrest came about 5 1/2 hours after Judge Heller had issued a "body attachment" for him.

When the juror had not been found by 3 p.m., Judge Heller, at LTC Mr. Belsky's urging, gave the other 11 jurors the option of being sequestered for the weekend in a downtown hotel, adding "this is not a situation that poses any concerns for your safety or anyone else's safety."

After the jurors said they did not want to be sequestered, they were told to return Monday morning.

Within an hour, Mr. Boykin was in custody, having returned home and contacted authorities with his whereabouts, sources said. He was taken to a conference room in the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse. When the judge, the lawyers, the defendant and a court stenographer filed into the room, reporters were barred from the hearing.

Shortly after 6 p.m., Mr. Boykin, free of restraints, was led by four sheriff's deputies out of the room and into an elevator. Mr. Boykin conceivably faced a contempt-of-court citation, but a source said he was being released. He apparently slipped out of the building undetected by media.

Mr. Boykin is one of six blacks on the jury considering the fate of the white officer, charged with manslaughter in the fatal shooting of a 14-year-old black youth fleeing from a stolen car in April. Prosecutors argued that the officer was negligent for firing a warning shot that killed Simmont Donta Thomas. The officer, who would face up to 10 years in prison if convicted, testified he believed he was returning fire.

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