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Fatal flaws unravel homicide arrests

Killings: Baltimore police, under pressure to solve murders, sometimes bring in suspects on thin evidence that dissolves before cases can be tried.

Justice Undone

December 15, 2002|By John B. O'Donnell | John B. O'Donnell,SUN STAFF

Herbert Ellis Jr. was at his girlfriend's house when her former boyfriend, Michael Wilkes, stormed into the house and kicked in Ellis' bedroom door. The document charging Ellis with the homicide suggested strongly that he acted in self-defense. Prosecutors concluded that, in fact, it was self-defense, and Ellis was released after four weeks in jail.

Lawrence Owens

Lawrence Owens was charged with the murder of Yolanda Walker after witnesses told police they had seen him with the victim hours before she was found dead. The charging document does not say that Owens killed her -- only that he was seen with her before her death.

Percy Holland and Sean Harriston

Percy Holland was charged with the murder of Ibrahim Abdullah after Abdullah was attacked by a group he was robbing at gunpoint. The document that charged Holland with murder said he was "involved" in the melee but did not mention that Abdullah had tried to shoot Holland. Detective Gary Niedermeier included that fact in papers that charged Abdullah's accomplice. Ultimately, Sean Harriston (right) was charged with killing Abdullah. He is awaiting trial.

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