Witnesses in murder trial place defendant in Florida

February 08, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

Witnesses for Bernard L. Ward, being retried for a 1988 murder, told an Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury yesterday that he was in Tallahassee, Fla., at the time police say he was in Maryland killing 25-year-old Eddie Brewer.

Mr. Ward's former wife, an ex-boss and a Social Security clerk testified that the 33-year-old former Glen Burnie man was in Florida in mid-November 1988.

Mr. Ward is being retried in the slaying of Eddie Brewer, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who was found naked, stabbed and strangled Dec. 12, 1988, in an abandoned house along Crain Highway.

Mr. Ward was arrested four days later at his father-in-law's Tallahassee trailer after three witnesses identified him from a stack of police photographs and said they saw him standing near the victim's burning 1977 Camaro, which was left at the murder scene.

Prosecutors say the murder occurred shortly after midnight on Nov. 16, 1988.

But at Mr. Ward's retrial yesterday, Karen Stewart, 30, of Baltimore said that her former husband arrived at her trailer in Tallahassee on their son's first birthday -- Nov. 12, 1988 -- and stayed for the next 12 days before leaving abruptly.

She said he stayed with her on the night of Nov. 15 and the next day they went to a Social Security office to apply for assistance for their epileptic son. They then went to the Leon County Courthouse to file a petition for custody of the two daughters she had by another man, she told jurors.

But under cross-examination by Assistant State's Attorney Ronald Naditch, Ms. Stewart acknowledged that she never went to police after learning her husband was charged with murder.

She offered no explanation as to why.

"I did not call nobody," she said. "I have no idea [why], I just didn't call nobody."

The Wards were divorced on Dec. 22, 1993.

Rashaad R. Mujahid, a Social Security clerk, said he recalled Mr. Ward coming into the office Nov. 16 with his wife and son because Mr. Ward "blew up" at him about an earlier decision by office administrators to deny the child benefits.

"You remember the people who blow off at you. It kind of sticks in your head," he said.

But he admitted to Mr. Naditch that he had been visited by Ms. Stewart and encouraged to testify. He also said he had trouble remembering "some of the things that happened just two weeks ago."

Cortez Decuir, foreman of a masonry crew, testified that Mr. Ward called him Dec. 15 about taking a masonry job the foreman had advertised in a Tallahassee newspaper.

He said that Mr. Ward left a Tallahassee phone number.

When Mr. Decuir called the number the next day, the defendant answered -- and then showed up to work the following day, he said.

The trial is being heard before Judge Warren B. Duckett, Jr. The case is expected to go to the jury Wednesday.

Last week, prosecutors offered testimony from a Leon County sheriff's detective showing that Mr. Ward knew details about the slaying that only the killer would know.

Mr. Naditch and Assistant State's Attorney William Mulford have focused on the three witnesses who placed Mr. Ward at the murder scene.

Mr. Ward, 33, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in 1989, cutting short his trial, after prosecutors offered him a life sentence instead of life without parole.

But he won a retrial in November 1992, when an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge ruled Mr. Ward was denied his constitutional rights when he decided to plead guilty, because his counsel at the time was incompetent.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.