County jury acquits 2 men charged in killing of unlicensed cabdriver

May 08, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury has acquitted two Baltimore men in the slaying of a pregnant unlicensed cabdriver who was shot in a robbery last fall.

Datwain Lamont Jackson, 18, of the 3700 block of Elmley Ave. and Purnell Samuel Summerville, 18, of the 5100 block of Darien Road were acquitted Friday by a jury that deliberated about 90 minutes after a weeklong trial.

The two men were indicted in October on charges of first-degree murder and armed robbery in the death Sept. 16 of Sandra Elizabeth Shipley, 24, of Perry Hall.

Police said Shipley was working as an unlicensed cabdriver when she picked up two men in her 1990 Plymouth Acclaim at Belair Road and Erdman Avenue. She was shot just before 2 a.m. in the 6100 block of St. Regis Road, Rosedale, by two men who took $22, pulled her out of her car and drove off, police said. The car was recovered three days later in Northeast Baltimore.

But Assistant State's Attorney Stephen Roscher said yesterday that his case largely depended on a prosecution witness who testified that he used heroin with the victim the night of the slaying and changed his account of which suspect shot her.

Roscher said the witness was a passenger whom Shipley picked up earlier that evening and had agreed to ride in the car that night as security.

The passenger, whose name is being withheld at Roscher's request because of concerns about possible retribution, identified Jackson and Summerville in a police lineup after their arrest. He told investigators that Jackson shot Shipley when she stopped to let the fares out and then shot at him before he fled on foot.

But in the trial before Judge Dana M. Levitz, the passenger identified Summerville - not Jackson - as the trigger man.

Roscher said the passenger was confused.

"I don't think it was a matter of him lying, I think he honestly was trying to tell the truth in both instances," he said.

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