Perjury charges dropped against cleared convict

March 30, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel County prosecutor dropped perjury charges yesterday against a 33-year-old man who was convicted of murder and spent five years in prison before a second jury cleared him.

Bernard L. Ward, of Dundalk, had been charged with perjury for what prosecutors said were lies he told under oath in a post-conviction hearing he requested to appeal his murder conviction.

Assistant state's attorney William Mulford II said yesterday that several witnesses initially told police that Mr. Ward knew the victim, Edward Brewer, and that they were together on Nov. 15, 1988, the night of the murder.

Mr. Mulford said that Mr. Ward denied at the hearing that he knew the 25-year-old Baltimore man and that he was with him the night of the murder.

But Mr. Mulford said yesterday that perjury charges had to be dropped because the state's three witnesses recanted at Mr. Ward's re-trial last month and a fourth witness has since died.

Mr. Brewer's nude body was found in an abandoned house along Crain Highway on Dec. 12, 1988, about a month after he was stabbed and strangled.

Mr. Ward was arrested four days later after witnesses identified his photo and told investigators he was near the victim's burning car, which was about 50 yards from the body.

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

But an Anne Arundel Circuit judge ordered a re-trial in November 1992, saying Mr. Ward's former counsel, George Kariotis, was so incompetent that his client was denied his constitutional rights when he decided to plead guilty.

He was acquitted by a jury last month after his new lawyers, Fred Heyman and Carl Schlaich, presented four witnesses who testified that he was in Florida at the time of the murder.

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