City judge refuses to further delay murder trial

He calls 9 postponements of beating case `disgrace'

November 06, 2003|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore judge angrily denied a prosecution request yesterday for a postponement in the murder trial of William Torianto Flowers, calling the nine delays in the case ridiculous and scheduling it for Monday.

Flowers, 26, of the 1500 block of Argyle Ave., is accused of fatally beating Charles Bryant, 65. Bryant, of the 500 block of Bloom St., was found lying in the 600 block of N. Carey St. on Valentine's Day 2002 and was bleeding from the back of the head. He was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center and died three weeks later.

Flowers was indicted on first-degree murder charges in Bryant's death in May last year, court records show. Since then, his trial date has been postponed nine times for reasons including the hospitalization of a key defense witness and a lack of courtroom space. The state requested a 10th postponement yesterday because prosecutor Jennifer Sites is on maternity leave.

"I'm not much for screaming and shouting because it doesn't help me and it doesn't help anyone else," Circuit Judge John M. Glynn said. "But this is a disgrace. This involves professional responsibility and the reputation of the justice system to do what it says it's going to do."

Assistant Public Defender Audre Davis was upset yesterday over the prosecution's postponement request. She suggested that the case be reassigned to another prosecutor.

A previous murder case involving Flowers was troubled by delays. In 1995, he was charged with shooting a man six times in a pool hall during a dispute over a girlfriend. After his case was postponed 17 times and a police evidence file was lost, prosecutors agreed to a deal with Flowers that allowed him to plead guilty to second-degree murder. He was sentenced to the three years he had served while waiting to be tried. The day after sentencing, the missing file was found in a folder for another case.

A few weeks before Flowers was set free, a city judge threw out first-degree murder charges against four men who waited nearly three years for trial.

State's attorney spokeswoman Margaret T. Burns said yesterday that both sides have contributed to delays in the current case, adding that Paul Budlow, the original prosecutor in the current Flowers case, is among several who have left the office's homicide division recently.

Glynn didn't want excuses.

"I don't really care who tries the case," he said in an interview. "But we're going to try the case."

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