Mother reports suspected cocaine

Stennett's parent notified police as he is held in latest case

March 15, 2002|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

The mother of 19-year-old Eric Stennett - the man acquitted last year of killing a Baltimore police officer in a high-speed chase, and called a "player" in the drug trade after another arrest last weekend - discovered suspected cocaine in her apartment and notified the police.

The mother, Margaret Beatty, confirmed last night accounts from Police Department sources that she had called 911 yesterday morning to report finding suspected drugs in her apartment in the 1100 block of Park Ave.

Officers who went to the apartment found a bag about the size of a lacrosse ball, filled with $5 vials of suspected cocaine, the sources said.

The department's spokeswoman, Ragina C. Averella, refused to comment on the case.

"We're not at liberty to discuss this," Averella said. "Because of the ongoing nature of this investigation, we're not going to comment on it."

Beatty told The Sun that she found the bag of suspected drugs - which she described as a small amount, "chump change" - and called police because she didn't want it in her apartment. Police and Beatty refused to say where in the residence the bag was recovered.

"I didn't want to implicate myself or destroy evidence," Beatty said, adding that she did not believe it belonged to her son.

"I don't think it's going to be held against him," she said.

Beatty said yesterday that she did not expect the information to become public and felt her privacy had been violated after being called by a reporter.

She said she had been told by police that the suspected drugs would be destroyed. She also urged people to help raise money to get her son out of jail, where he is being held on $500,000 bond.

"Who is going to raise the money to get him out?" Beatty asked. "Who is going to help him get out of the position he is in?"

Stennett, who has a history of drug arrests as a juvenile, was tried last year in the death of Officer Kevon Gavin, 27, who was killed in April 2000 after his patrol car was rammed by a Ford Bronco traveling at more than 100 mph.

Stennett was accused of firing gunshots on a street corner and then leading police on a high-speed chase in the Bronco, which rammed the officer's cruiser, pinning him under the dashboard.

Stennett was pulled from his Bronco wearing a bulletproof vest, authorities said.

At trial, Stennett's lawyer said the crash was an accident, and he highlighted inconsistencies in police reports and mishandling of evidence by police. The jury acquitted Stennett of all charges, a verdict that drew widespread criticism from city leaders and law enforcement officials.

Stennett's most recent brush with police came last weekend when he was charged with possessing and intending to distribute drugs, handgun possession, assault and littering.

Officers responding to the 1000 block of Druid Hill Ave. about 11:50 p.m. Saturday, investigating an anonymous tip about an armed man dealing drugs, spotted and chased Stennett, who tossed a gun and suspected drugs as he ran, police said.

Police took extra steps to preserve the evidence, including sheltering the handgun from the rain until an officer with rubber gloves could handle it, police officials have said.

At Stennett's bail hearing Monday, state prosecutors said he was a "player" in the drug trade and was "wreaking havoc on the streets of Baltimore."

They also said they are seeking to have Stennett charged in federal court, where he could face stiffer penalties and no parole if convicted.

Sun staff writer Johnathon E. Briggs contributed to this article.

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