Lawyer argues against 2nd trial in 1992 slaying

April 14, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore County man should be cleared of murder charges because a judge improperly declared a mistrial at the man's trial in February, his defense attorney argued in Howard Circuit Court yesterday.

Troy Lynn Brooks, 29, of Rockdale should not face a second trial for the October 1992 slaying of a longtime friend because that would violate state and federal laws prohibiting double jeopardy, said his attorney, William H. Murphy Jr. of Baltimore.

Mr. Murphy asked Judge Raymond Kane Jr. to dismiss the indictment filed against Mr. Brooks because Judge James Dudley should never have declared the mistrial, despite the judge's instructions to the jury to ignore Mr. Murphy's speeches and "obnoxious comments."

But Senior Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha, who is prosecuting Mr. Brooks, argued that Judge Dudley acted properly. He noted that the judge acknowledged that his comments went beyond the proper judicial demeanor.

Mr. Murtha said Judge Dudley was not only protecting the rights of Mr. Brooks, but he also was protecting the public's interest to have fair trials.

Judge Kane did not say when he would issue a ruling.

Mr. Murphy said Judge Dudley declared the mistrial at a time when he felt he was winning the case for Mr. Brooks, charged with first-degree murder for the execution-style slaying of Kevin Lee Holland, 27, of Baltimore on Oct. 10, 1992.

"I know what I'm doing in the courtroom," Mr. Murphy said. "What's Judge Dudley's business for declaring a mistrial that I didn't want?"

During yesterday's hearing, Mr. Murphy read most of the trial's transcript covering two key prosecution witnesses, including a co-defendant who entered into a plea agreement in exchange for his testimony against Mr. Brooks.

Mr. Murphy said the transcript shows he discredited the witnesses, catching them in numerous inconsistencies. One of the witnesses acknowledged he smoked crack-cocaine on the day he saw Mr. Brooks and Mr. Holland together, the last time the victim was seen alive.

The transcript also shows several barbs that were traded between Judge Dudley and Mr. Murphy. At one point, Judge Dudley advised the jurors to disregard Mr. Murphy's obnoxious statements. Mr. Murphy responded by saying, "Thank you for calling me obnoxious, judge."

The transcript shows the exchanges between Judge Dudley and the attorneys during bench conferences, which occurred out of earshot from jurors and courtroom observers.

During one conference, Judge Dudley declared a mistrial, but took a recess and resumed the trial about 10 minutes later.

At another conference, Mr. Murphy wanted Judge Dudley to instruct the jury to disregard the judge's comments. Instead, Judge Dudley asked the attorney seven times if he wanted a mistrial. When Mr. Murphy didn't respond, Judge Dudley declared the mistrial, sent the jurors home and left the courtroom.

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