Jurors in the trial of man accused of shooting a Baltimore police officer heard two widely different accounts yesterday -- one from a hostile teen-ager who repeatedly insisted that Donnell A. Ward didn't shoot him and the officer a year ago, and the other from a convicted felon who adamantly testified that Ward did.
In a high-profile case that occurs two weeks after a jury convicted Howard "Wee" Whitworth of the shooting death of Baltimore police Officer Michael J. Cowdery, prosecutors are trying to prove that Ward, 27, shot Officer Willie D. Grandy in the left leg and Roy Hopkins, 17, in the buttock March 26 last year.
Ward faces more than two dozen charges, including attempted first-degree murder against Grandy, Detective Michael Coleman and Hopkins. Ward faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on each of the those charges.
Ward's attorney, Brian G. Thompson, spent much of yesterday trying to discredit Martin Spriggs, who is serving time in prison for several convictions and whose testimony yesterday -- along with that of Hopkins -- differed from what he originally told police.
Thompson asked Spriggs whether he had shot Grandy and Hopkins and was "trying to pin it on" Ward. Spriggs, who denied that he shot the two, matched a description given of the shooter, was in the house police believed the shooter fled to and tested positive for gunshot residue on his hands.
Spriggs testified that he saw Ward shoot Grandy and Hopkins and then flee on foot. But on cross-examination he couldn't explain why he didn't tell police that initially.
When Thompson asked Spriggs whether he was serving time for armed robbery, he replied: "I don't remember no armed robbery charge." He gave a similar answer to a question about serving time for motor vehicle theft and to a query about gunshot residue tests administered to him.
"I'm confused [as to] why you have such a great memory about March 26 and not about these events," Thompson said.
Hopkins, whom Grandy and Coleman were arresting at the time of the shooting, testified repeatedly that Ward was not the man who shot him. He spoke out of turn at times during direct examination by Assistant State's Attorney James Wallner and even questioned the prosecutor -- prompting Circuit Judge Allen L. Schwait to admonish him.
Hopkins testified that he sold marijuana, sometimes with Ward but never for him. He testified that he thinks the shooter -- not Ward -- thought police, dressed in plainclothes that day, were attempting to rob him.
Wallner played excerpts from Hopkins' 12-minute interview with police March 26, during which the teen-ager identified a man named Don as the shooter. But Hopkins insisted under oath that he was not referring to Ward.
After acknowledging that he had signed a photo from an array identifying Ward as the shooter, Hopkins said he did so under duress. He said in testimony that police were "smacking" him in his wound and that he was offered a "deal" to identify Ward as the shooter. Hopkins also testified that the charges of selling marijuana for which he was arrested March 26 were dropped in juvenile court.
The trial resumes today. Ward is expected to testify.