Absent victim delays shooting trial

Teen's testimony key in Harper's Choice case

May 11, 1999|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

The case against a Baltimore man accused of shooting a 17-year-old boy in Harper's Choice in September was thrown into uncertainty yesterday when the victim failed to appear in court.

Maurice Green's trial on a charge of attempted murder was scheduled to begin yesterday, but prosecutors were granted a postponement until July because nobody seemed to know the whereabouts of Raymond T. Lawson.

Lawson "is an essential witness," said Assistant State's Attorney Debra Saltz.

Last week, a Howard County circuit judge issued an order to detain Lawson for trial after prosecutors expressed concern that he might not appear to testify. Lawson also is wanted for violating his juvenile probation, his mother said.

Lawson apparently is the only witness to the crime, the first of two shootings over two days in the Village of Harper's Choice in September.

Without Lawson, prosecutors don't have a case, said Green's attorney, James V. Cunningham.

"I think [Lawson] realizes he picked the wrong person out of the photo array, and that's why he's not showing up," Cunningham said.

About 12: 30 a.m. Sept. 20, Lawson was walking along a footpath near the Harper's Choice village center, police said, when he was attacked by two men.

One displayed a silver-colored handgun, ordered Lawson to the ground and kicked him in the head, police said.

The men then rummaged through Lawson's pockets, police said, stole about $100 and began to walk away. Lawson started to get up when the gunman fired, wounding the teen in the stomach, police said.

Two days later, Lawson identified Green, 21, as the shooter from a photo lineup, police said.

The trial has been postponed twice, in February and March. Lawson appeared for the trial in March, prosecutors said.

Beverly Moals, Lawson's mother, said her son has been in trouble and has missed several appointments with his probation agent.

Friday, Moals saw her son and called authorities to pick him up. Lawson fled before sheriff's deputies arrived, prosecutors said.

"He leaves when he feels like it," Moals said. "He does what he wants to do.

"He [has] decided to keep running and running We just want him to turn himself in."

A day after Lawson was wounded, a 38-year-old Columbia man was shot in Harper's Choice. Robert J. Manning of Baltimore was charged with attempted murder in that shooting. A Howard County jury acquitted him in March.

Testimony during the trial indicated that the two shootings were related.

Manning, an admitted drug dealer, testified that another man shot John Gordon Jackson outside the Fall River Terrace apartment complex about 2 a.m. Sept. 21 in retaliation for the shooting of Lawson.

Pub Date: 5/11/99

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