Boy hurt in shooting takes witness stand

Neighbor, 20, is charged with attempted murder

March 29, 2003|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

An 11-year-old Baltimore boy who was hit by a stray bullet in the neck last summer in a crime that touched off a political battle about the city's criminal justice system testified yesterday in Circuit Court that it "burned" when he was shot.

"It burned and I felt dizzy like I was about to drop," said Tevin Montrel Davis, a fifth-grader who speaks clearly despite having lost part of his tongue and some of his teeth in the shooting.

Yesterday was the second day of trial for Perry Spain, 20, the man charged with attempted murder in the shooting of Tevin, who lived on the same block as Spain and once called him a "friend." Spain didn't shoot the child, according to his lawyer.

During his testimony, Tevin pointed to Spain, though he did not identify who shot him. Neither side asked him on the witness stand.

But Tevin's father, Rodney Harden, later testified that he saw Spain come out of an alley with a gun and shoot it up the street where Tevin was sitting.

"He came running out of the alley, and he shot one time," Harden said.

Defense lawyer Warren A. Brown grilled Harden about why he initially did not identify Spain as the gunman and told police on the night of the shooting that he did not know who shot Tevin.

It is unclear when Harden identified Spain as the gunman. Prosecutors say it was two days after the shooting, but Brown says the evidence shows it was two weeks later.

Harden said he hesitated to accuse Spain out of fear for himself and his family. He said he wanted police to hear it from someone else first, then he would corroborate the story.

"I saw when he did it," Harden said.

"When you live in that kind of neighborhood, if you say something wrong, you won't be around to tell about it," he said.

The case lost a key eyewitness in November, suffering what prosecutors called a "catastrophic loss" when Juan Wilson -- whom police described as a drug dealer -- was killed.

At the time of the shooting, Mayor Martin O'Malley criticized the criminal justice system, angry that Spain was released on $35,000 bail and permitted to return to the Fairmont Avenue neighborhood where Tevin and Spain lived.

Though the defendant and the victim lived 12 doors apart, no prosecutor showed up at the bail hearing to argue for a higher bail. Prosecutors, who railed back at O'Malley, said they were not notified by police about the hearing.

The night Tevin was shot, the child and some of his friends in the neighborhood were on the steps of the Davis home about 9 p.m. Next door, Tevin's mother, Antoinette Davis, was talking to her neighbors outside.

Shots rang out, and Tevin ran to his mother, she testified earlier this week. As he ran, he was shot through his neck, and the bullet exited his mouth.

Police later learned that a craps game had been going on nearby minutes before the shooting. Four men ran up and robbed the men playing dice at gunpoint, according to police.

Prosecutor Roger Harris said Spain was one of the men playing dice, and that he ran after the robbers, shooting at them. One of the bullets hit Tevin, he said.

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