Jessamy won't seek higher bail for man charged in boy's shooting

Suspect has moved out of victim's neighborhood

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

Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy will not seek to change the $35,000 bail status of a man charged with shooting a 10-year-old boy, despite Mayor Martin O'Malley's fear that the suspect represented a danger because he lived less than a block from the victim.

Jessamy, who was asked by the mayor Friday to request a new bail hearing for suspect Perry Spain, said she decided not to ask for higher bail because there have been no changes in the case to merit such consideration.

"We would only request a change in bail if we had discovered something had been misrepresented or untrue" at the bail hearing, said Jessamy, whose office came under heavy criticism for the Spain case last week. "Or if anything had changed."

Spain is charged with wounding Tevin Montrel Davis in the neck with a stray bullet during a West Baltimore gunbattle. The shooting July 15 drew public outcry against street violence and city officials pointed to it as a symbol of how children are victimized by lawless gunmen, who the mayor said are sometimes treated too leniently by prosecutors and judges.

But Spain may have defused the bail issue altogether -- he has moved out of the Fairmount Avenue neighborhood where he had been living 12 doors from Tevin.

The 19-year-old suspect, who at one time was a friend to the child and even bought him candy bars, moved to Southwest Baltimore during the weekend, according to his lawyer, Warren A. Brown. Jessamy and O'Malley were informed of the move in a letter that Brown sent them yesterday.

Spain was released four days after the shooting, after a bail hearing in which no prosecutor showed up to argue for a higher bail. Almost immediately, the mayor publicly criticized the judge and the state's attorney's office, saying the system had failed to take the necessary steps for community safety.

The mayor was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

Brown said his client moved in light of the mayor's comments.

"We used an abundance of caution and moved out of the area for now," Brown said. "We don't want anybody saying he's violating the conditions of his bail release."

When he was released on bail, Spain was instructed by District Judge George M. Lipman not to have contact with the victim or any witnesses in the case.

Brown said that might have been a difficult restriction for Spain, because the witnesses could be his former neighbors and people with whom he socializes.

Jessamy said her decision regarding Spain's bail had nothing to do with him moving out of the neighborhood. But she said she was glad that he has moved.

"It's in the best interest of the family for him to move away," Jessamy said. "Anything that gives them a heightened sense of security, we support."

Brown, who has endorsed one of Jessamy's rivals in the coming Democratic primary, said he believes Jessamy did not request a change in bail because she feared it would appear that she erred by not sending a prosecutor to Spain's bail review.

"If she tried to do it, it would underscore the fact she didn't do it the first time," said Brown, who publicly endorsed Baltimore lawyer Anton J.S. Keating for state's attorney yesterday.

Jessamy is in the midst of a re-election campaign and faces two aggressive candidates in the Sept. 10 primary. It's the first opposition she has had since she took office in 1995.

Tevin was shot after an argument in the neighborhood among several men over a craps game. The boy was sitting on his porch when the bullet hit him in the neck, entered his mouth and knocked out his teeth.

An eyewitness identified Spain as the gunman, according to court charging papers. Spain has denied the allegation.

He is charged with nine criminal counts, including attempted first-degree murder.

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