Maurice Blevins took the stand yesterday in his murder trial but offered no explanation of who killed 3-year-old James Smith III, instead testifying that he did not start the gunfight in the West Baltimore barbershop where the boy was shot in the head.
"I seen Kenya Davis, and when he seen me he pulled his gun out and shot at me," said Blevins, 20, who is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Jan. 2 shooting death.
Blevins of the 1100 block of W. Lexington St. said he returned the gunfire because "I was in fear of my life." Blevins said he knew Davis, 21, and that the two had recently had a dispute.
Under questioning, Blevins said he did not intend to hurt James. He expressed no remorse for the shooting, nor did he blame it on Davis. He said he could not see the boy when he was shooting at Davis.
Blevins' statements concluded testimony in the trial, which will continue with closing arguments Monday. Blevins' attorney, Stanley H. Needleman, has maintained that Davis started the gunfight and was the person who shot James. The boy had turned 3 that day and was waiting in the Fresh Cuttz barbershop on South Carrollton Avenue for a haircut.
But prosecutor Bill Giuffre and several witnesses said that
TC Blevins was the one who fired the first shot, and Giuffre said Blevins killed the boy.
In addition to first-degree murder, Blevins is charged with handgun violations and two counts of attempted murder in connection with the shootings of Davis and Cheryl Whittington, James' mother. The prosecution is not seeking the death penalty.
Davis pleaded guilty to possession of a handgun and is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.
Before Blevins took the stand, a friend who was in the barbershop at the time of the shooting testified that the boy was not shot when police believe he was.
Anthony Crews, 21, said that he jumped on Davis as the man was running from Blevins. At that time, he said, "the baby was standing up." During a tussle, Davis' gun went off several times, he said.
Police have theorized that Davis, Whittington and James, who were near each other when Blevins entered the barbershop, were all struck by the same bullet -- the one Blevins fired at Davis.
James Wagster, a firearms identification expert with the city Police Department, testified that a .45 caliber bullet retrieved from the barbershop was the sort "made to punch through whatever they hit." In a statement to police, Blevins said the weapon he had was a .45-caliber gun.
Detective Vernon Parker, who investigated the slaying, said it was a "viable conclusion" that all three were hit by the same bullet.
But Parker said during cross- examination that he had not ordered tests done that could have determined if the three people's blood and other human matter were on the bullet.
Needleman asked Parker why he also had not had the three victims' bullet holes measured and accused him of not doing so "based on a theory of yours."
Parker responded, "You can't measure bullet holes to determine what kind of bullet went through the flesh."
Pub Date: 8/08/97