Man out on bail charged in shooting

Cousin of victim in first incident injured near city courthouses

25-year-old indicted in cases

But lawyer of accused disputes that more recent altercation occurred

April 26, 2002|By Sarah Koenig | Sarah Koenig,SUN STAFF

Ten days after being let out of jail on $200,000 bail pending a first-degree murder trial, a West Baltimore man is accused of shooting the victim's cousin in the face during an altercation that took place just a stone's throw from the city's circuit courthouses.

Antonio M. Henderson, 25, of the 900 block of Bennett Place was indicted yesterday by a Baltimore City grand jury on both crimes. He is charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder.

Henderson was accused of shooting Raymond J. Fortune, 24, of the 1000 block of Edmondson Ave. once in the side at close range with a semiautomatic handgun March 20 after the two had an argument. Fortune died about an hour later at Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

About 3:30 a.m. April 12, Clifford Ford, 19, of Cranston Avenue was riding his bike in the 200 block of E. Fayette St. when he was knocked down and shot in the face, according to police. Ford, who is Fortune's cousin, rode his bike to the hospital, and identified Henderson as the shooter. Henderson turned himself in April 14 and remains at the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Prosecutors said yesterday that Henderson should not have been released from jail. At a bail review hearing on the murder charge April 1, the state recommended that Henderson be held without bail -- its standard position in murder cases.

Vague document

Henderson's attorney, Lawrence B. Rosenberg, argued during the original hearing that the police document describing the crime did not support a "no bail" status, saying there was a lack of evidence connecting Henderson to the crime. The police document said only that unnamed witnesses had identified the suspect.

Such vague language is common in police reports, in part because authorities try to protect witnesses by keeping their identities out of public documents for as long as possible.

Prosecutor David Chiu had no additional information, and so could not rebut Rosenberg's argument. In addition, Henderson had no prior convictions for violent crimes.

District Court Judge Charles A. Chiapparelli lowered Henderson's pretrial status from "no bail" to $200,000. Henderson paid a bail bondsman and was released.

Assistant State's Attorney Page Croyder, who heads the office's charging function, said yesterday that figure is uncommonly low.

"We don't often see judges set $200,000 bail in murder cases," she said. "We can talk night and day about how much information should be in the [police] statement, but if you take out a gun and you shoot somebody, then no bail was appropriate."

`Bogus' incident

Rosenberg, Henderson's lawyer, said yesterday that he is sure his client did not commit the second crime, which he called "bogus."

Because police could not find the crime scene or a bullet, Rosenberg said he does not believe a shooting occurred -- meaning his client did not violate the terms of his pretrial release.

He is adamant on that point. "This bothers me greatly," he said, "because I know how it looks. It makes everybody look bad."

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