State drops murder charges against three Baltimore men

Prosecutors unable to produce witnesses

January 17, 2003|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

City prosecutors dropped murder charges yesterday in Circuit Court against three Baltimore men after failing to produce their star witness.

Wesley Howard Harris, 19, of the 2400 block of Lauretta Ave., Reginald Dorsey, 21, of the 600 block of Claymont Ave., and Jarrod Anderson, 23, of the 5200 block of Cromarty Road, were accused in the death a year ago of Nathaniel Snuggs, 18, whose body was found in an alley in the 1900 block of Harlem Ave. Snuggs had been shot four times after being abducted and robbed of his coat.

The men were supposed to stand trial Dec. 9, but the case was continued until Jan. 15 by Judge M. Brooke Murdock after prosecutor Phillip Pickus said he needed more time to locate two witnesses, Murdock said.

FOR THE RECORD - An article in yesterday's editions of The Sun about a decision by Baltimore prosecutors to drop charges in a murder case incorrectly stated that State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy had spoken to the lieutenant governor about the need for funds to hire detectives to track down crime witnesses.
Jessamy had a brief encounter with Michael S. Steele but did not discuss that issue, her office said.The Sun regrets the error.

On Wednesday, Pickus and police said they needed additional time locating two witnesses, so Murdock gave them 24 hours, until 11 a.m. yesterday. She also signed a body attachment, which said the witnesses could be arrested for failing to appear, she said.

"Today they said they had no chance of finding one witness, they had no leads on her," Murdock said last night. "On the other witness, they said it didn't seem likely they'd find her in the foreseeable future. One of the defendants had been in jail since April 2002, another since May 2002 and the third since July 2002. I balanced all the interests and decided not to grant the state a postponement."

With no postponement, prosecutors felt they had no choice but to drop charges, said Margaret T. Burns, spokeswoman for the city state's attorney. But the charges could be reinstated.

She said that State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy spoke with Lt. Gov. Michael Steele yesterday about the need to allocate funds to hire detectives whose sole responsibility is finding state's witnesses.

Burns said the lead detective in the Snuggs case had spoken with the star witness Tuesday night and arranged to pick her up to bring her to court on Wednesday, but when the detective went to the woman's home the next day she was not there.

Burns also said that prosecutors last month had to place an attempted murder case against Harris on the court's inactive docket because the victim failed to show up five times to testify.

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