Mistrial in case of double shooting

Jury deadlocks 10-2 on whether man tried to kill officer, arrestee

April 30, 2002|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

After deliberating for 14 hours over three days, a jury declared itself hung yesterday, saying it could not unanimously decide whether defendant Donnell A. Ward shot and wounded a police officer and a teen-ager last year on an East Baltimore street.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Allen L. Schwait declared a mistrial and dismissed the jury, telling the courtroom that all 12 jurors must agree in order to convict or acquit a defendant.

Both the prosecution and the defense said they would retry the case.

Ten members of the jury thought Ward was innocent of 21 counts, including three of attempted first-degree murder, the forewoman told the court.

Two jurors thought Ward was guilty of shooting Baltimore Officer Willie D. Grandy, 41, in the left leg and Roy Hopkins, 17, in the buttock March 26 last year.

Brian G. Thompson, who represented Ward during the four-day trial, said the 10-to-2 split should persuade the state to drop the case.

"It's unfortunate the state's attorney's office is so inflexible they insist on retrying the case even though 10 out of 12 people said he's not guilty," Thompson said. "My client has been sitting in jail for the past 13 months."

But Assistant State's Attorney James Wallner said he is confident about his case.

"I can try this case tomorrow," Wallner said. "The evidence is what it is."

Three days of debate

The jurors deliberated Wednesday and Thursday without reaching a verdict and were told not to come to court Friday because of a scheduling conflict. They deliberated until shortly after 4 p.m. yesterday before telling the judge they could not reach a unanimous verdict. Most looked exhausted yesterday and refused to talk publicly about the case.

According to prosecutors, Grandy and his partner were arresting Hopkins on charges of dealing marijuana in the 700 block of Wharton Court last year when a man came around a corner with a handgun under a bandanna and fired seven shots.

Weapon not in evidence

The state's case did not include the weapon used in the shooting, and prosecutors presented little physical evidence. The case hinged on three witnesses who said they saw Ward shoot Grandy - one of them Grandy, who still carries a bullet in his leg.

The second witness was Hopkins, who originally identified Ward to police as the shooter, but changed his story on the witness stand last week.

The third was Martin Spriggs, who is serving time in prison for several convictions. He testified that he watched the incident through a nearby window and saw Ward shoot Grandy and Hopkins, then run away.

`Incredible' witnesses

During closing arguments last week, Thompson said Hopkins and Spriggs are "completely incredible." He also said Grandy couldn't have identified the shooter because he didn't have an opportunity to get a good look at the gunman who - according to Grandy - was standing 30 feet away and wearing a fur-lined hood the day of the shooting.

But Wallner, in his closing argument, told the jury that Ward is clearly guilty because three witnesses identified Ward as the shooter, and another officer corroborated their versions of what happened during the incident, though that officer couldn't identify the gunman.

Both lawyers said they will be in administrative court today to decide on a date for the retrial.

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