A Baltimore County circuit judge ruled yesterday that prosecutors may use Troy White's statements to police after he was arrested in February and admitted his role in the killing of a county police sergeant.
White, 23, scheduled to be tried in the killing of Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero next month, told police that he was one of four men who robbed J. Brown Jewelers in Pikesville of about $438,250 on Feb. 7.
A judge ruled Tuesday that statements made by a codefendant, Donald Antonio White, 19, no relation, could be used against him at his trial Aug. 21.
Troy White told detectives after his arrest that he didn't carry a gun during the robbery and didn't know anyone had been killed until he saw television news reports.
"I went in, I broke a few display cases, I stole a few watches, but I didn't kill anyone," Detective Philip Marll quoted White as saying.
Prothero, 35, a father of five, was shot to death as he chased four suspects out of the store on Reistertown Road.
Marll's testimony came at a pre-trial hearing yesterday requested by White's lawyer seeking to keep prosecutors from using the statements when his case is tried Sept. 6. Also charged in the robbery and killing are brothers Wesley John Moore, 25, and Richard Antonio Moore, 30, who prosecutors believe shot Prothero.
Mark Van Bavel, Troy White's lawyer, argued that White's statements should be suppressed because by the time White began to talk with Marll, he had been in police custody for six hours and had asked for a lawyer four times.
Police also intimidated White by having an array of detectives stream in and out of the interrogation room where White was being held to watch him, Van Bavel said.
"It was a scenario that was meant to unnerve him," the lawyer said.
But Judge John G. Turnbull II concluded that the detectives had been "extremely cautious" and ruled that prosecutors may use White's comments. He based his ruling on Marll's testimony that White read his Miranda rights out loud before he was questioned.
Marll also said that White began volunteering information when he learned he was charged with first-degree murder. "He said, `I know my rights, now I want to know how you can charge me with this offense,'" Marll said.
White admitted that he and the other suspects had visited the store a number of times before the robbery, Marll said.
White refused to give Marll a written statement but identified three other suspects and took police to the neighborhoods where they lived, Marll testified.
White told police that Richard Moore had admitted shooting Prothero, Marll testified. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against Richard Moore, but not the other defendants.
White also said that he stowed his getaway car, a gray Oldsmobile Delta 88, in an uncle's garage where police later found it, Marll said.
White became the first suspect identified in the killing when police overheard him offer to sell some of the stolen jewelry in a wiretapped telephone call that White made to a suspect in a federal drug investigation, according to testimony.
Detective Isaac Hester, a county narcotics officer assigned to a U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency task force, testified that a person identified as "Fats" telephoned a man named Marcel Walton about an hour after the killing, offering to sell Walton some Rolex and Cartier watches.
Hester testified yesterday that when Walton called "Fats" back Feb. 8, police traced Fats' phone to a house in the 1000 block of N. Ellamont St. Police arrested White later that day as he was leaving the home, which belonged to an acquaintance.
At the time of his arrest, White had his nickname, "Fats", tattooed across his stomach, Marll testified.