Prothero suspects denied bail

Extradition hearing set in Philadelphia for 2charged in killing

`No jubilation' for family

Officer's relatives express frustration with justice system

February 21, 2000|By Dan Thanh Dang and Dennis O'Brien | Dan Thanh Dang and Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

As the family of a slain Baltimore County police officer gathered at a somber celebration of his youngest daughter's second birthday, two brothers charged in the fatal shooting were denied bail in Philadelphia yesterday.

Richard Antonio Moore, 29, and Wesley John Moore, 24, were being held in the lockup at Philadelphia police headquarters, awaiting transfer to that city's Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility. An extradition hearing has been set March 6.

The Moores appeared on video monitors for arraignment hearings that started about 6 p.m. and lasted about five minutes each.

After answering a few questions about his public defender, Richard Moore asked only one question of a court commissioner: "What if I was to fight extradition?"

That action would mean a delay in bringing him back to Maryland to stand trial in the death of Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero, who was shot Feb. 7 as he chased four men who fled from a Pikesville jewelry store after a daylight robbery.

The arrest of the Moore brothers Saturday afternoon ended an intensive 12-day manhunt and brought widespread relief to a grieving Baltimore County Police Department. Two other suspects had been arrested earlier.

The Prothero family expressed frustration yesterday over a justice system that fails to keep violent offenders in jail. Police and court records show that all four suspects have lengthy criminal histories ranging from drug possession to attempted murder.

"Too often people are apprehended and out on the street the next day," said Rick Prothero as he wrapped an arm around Bruce's tearful wife at a county Fraternal Order of Police news conference in Carney. "It has been frustrating for us as family of a police officer.

"We are certainly not the only family that has lost a son, a brother, a husband and a father," Rick Prothero said. "We are victims, but there are lots of victims of this kind of thing. Our family felt some instant relief, some momentary joy maybe, but no jubilation."

The aftermath of the shooting has been a "roller coaster" ride of emotions, Prothero family members said.

There was concern that the suspects would not be caught. There was gratitude for the overwhelming support Ann Prothero and her five children received from police officers and the public.

There also was fear that the men would cause more harm while they were at large.

Added to all that, they said, was immense sorrow over their loss mixed with moments of happiness and anger.

Yesterday, 2-year-old Hannah's birthday party brought another surge of feelings.

"Reality is not reality at my house yet," Ann Prothero said. "But we have to go on. It doesn't feel like it will, but it will. [Bruce] would want me to think of the kids."

She added, "My husband's job was to help keep people who do these heinous crimes off the street. The fact that they're out there in public, not behind bars. It is unacceptable."

The other two suspects in the Prothero killing, Donald Antonio White Jr., 19, and Troy White, 25, both of Baltimore, are being held without bail at the Baltimore County Detention Center. The Whites, also charged with first-degree murder, are not related.

The Moore brothers had remained free even as police crisscrossed the Baltimore area searching for them. Tips came from as far as Virginia and Pennsylvania, police said.

"We had spottings right and left," said Cpl. Vicki Warehime, a county police spokeswoman. "We acted on every tip that was given to us."

County police tactical officers combed a North Point neighborhood Tuesday, where the Moores' mother, Mary Moore, lives. On Wednesday night, a police helicopter with searchlights scanned an Essex community where Wesley Moore once lived. Two hours before the Moores' arrest in Philadelphia, county homicide detectives were back in North Point, interviewing residents about the suspects' whereabouts.

Officers in the North Point precinct also received tips that the brothers had been spending a lot of time near Dundalk.

But the breakthrough, police sources said, came after Baltimore City and county officers executed several arrest warrants early Saturday in the Cherry Hill neighborhood in southern Baltimore near Richard Moore's old Baltimore County neighborhood in Lansdowne.

The tip led them to a crime-ridden neighborhood in North Philadelphia. About 3: 30 p.m. Saturday, a fugitive task force of FBI agents, U.S. marshals, and Baltimore County and Philadelphia police raided a three-story brick rowhouse in the 2200 block of N. 19th St.

The brothers immediately "laid down and surrendered and did what they were told," said David Ebron, 66, their great-uncle with whom they had stayed since Thursday.

Ebron said that when the brothers showed up at his door, they did not mention that they were in trouble with the law.

He said he learned that police were searching for them in a letter he received Friday from a niece in Baltimore.

Ebron said he did not have a chance to talk with Richard or Wesley Moore before heavily armed police banged on his door Saturday afternoon.

That evening, Baltimore County and Philadelphia police drove away with two green plastic bags after conducting an hourlong search at Ebron's home.

Yesterday, county police praised the work of Baltimore and Philadelphia police and federal authorities in tracking down the suspects and arresting them without incident.

"Again, we want to say we couldn't have done this without the help of all the other law enforcement agencies," Warehime said.

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