Jury finds Baltimore man guilty

He is convicted of robbery, assault in a 1998 shooting

`The right decision'

Defendant, 22, is acquitted of attempted murder

August 27, 1999|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A Howard County Circuit Court jury convicted a Baltimore man last night for his involvement in the robbery and shooting of a Columbia teen-ager last year near Harper's Choice Village Center.

The 12-member panel found Maurice Green, 22, guilty of assault and robbery in the Sept. 20 shooting of Raymond T. Lawson, now 18. The jury acquitted Green of attempted murder.

Jurors deliberated for about four hours and listened to Lawson's testimony on audiotape before reaching a verdict about 8: 30 p.m.

"The verdict shows the jury examined the evidence," said Assistant State's Attorney Keith Cave. "They made the right decision. I am pleased."

Green's defense attorney declined to comment as his client was led away in handcuffs.

Judge Dennis M. Sweeney set sentencing for Nov. 4. Green could be sentenced to 25 years in prison for the assault conviction.

The shooting of Lawson was the first of two in 24 hours within blocks of the village center and shocked Harper's Choice residents. The defendant in the other shooting was acquitted on all charges in March.

Both cases came to one man's word against another's. Lawson testified that he was hanging out on a foot path about 12: 30 a.m. Sept. 20 when two men accosted him, one placing a handgun to his head.

He said that after he was pushed off his bicycle and beaten, the men rummaged through his pockets and stole about $100. When Lawson started to get up, the gunman -- described by him as a light-skinned, chubby man -- shot him in the stomach. Lawson would have died from his injuries if he hadn't had surgery, his doctor testified.

Lawson identified Green as one of the robbers but said the other man was holding the gun.

Howard County police Detective Nathan Rettig testified yesterday that "there have been no leads developed to indicate who the light-skinned [man] was."

Cave asked jurors to convict Green of attempted murder, but jurors declined.

Lawson, in custody for violating his juvenile probation, was not in court yesterday. But his mother, Beverly Moals of Columbia, said after the verdict: "I'm just happy. Justice is served. Raymond can rest, can sleep comfortably now."

Prosecutors built a circumstantial case against Green that afternoon seemed in doubt until yesterday. Police recovered no weapon, shell casings, fingerprints or other physical evidence. Two teen-age girls with Lawson during the shooting testified they couldn't identify the robbers.

Instead, prosecutors relied heavily on Lawson's testimony and spent most of Tuesday using forensic evidence to show that a handgun left impressions in the back of Green's Nissan Maxima.

Green testified in his defense; his girlfriend and two friends testified that he was with them the night of the shooting.

But Cave pecked away at Green's alibi during cross-examination.

When Green was arrested six days after the shooting, he told detectives that he didn't remember where he was when the crime occurred. He then changed his story and told detectives that he had been out with a woman. He said he hesitated to tell of his whereabouts because he didn't want his girlfriend to find out he was seeing someone else.

On the witness stand, Green said he was at home in Baltimore with his girlfriend and one of her friends during the shooting.

Green's attorney, James V. Cunningham, tried to convince the jury that there wasn't enough evidence to convict. He argued that Lawson identified another type of handgun than the one that was alleged to have left impressions in Green's car.

He also questioned Lawson's ability to identify the robbers in the dark.

But Cave told jurors that Lawson got a good look at Green, and saw the robbers run away and jump into a cream-colored Nissan Maxima with tinted windows, the same kind of car that Green owns.

The next day, police found Green hanging out with several friends near the shooting scene. They searched his car but didn't find anything. The police report filed on that incident and a confidential informant's tip eventually led them to focus on Green.

"Either the defendant is guilty, which he is, or he is one of the unluckiest people in the world," Cave said.

Pub Date: 8/27/99

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