Witnesses to detective's death testify

Bar workers helped solve killing, prosecutors say

February 05, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Two doormen at a Southeast Baltimore tavern who prosecutors say helped solve the fatal shooting of police Officer Thomas G. Newman by chasing down his killers testified yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court about the night the detective was executed.

Jovan J. House, 22, is on trial for killing Newman in the city's first death penalty trial in six years. Two other men are also charged in the killing - Raymond Saunders, 22, and Anthony A. Brown, 34 - and will be tried later.

Newman was fatally shot Nov. 23, 2002, in an ambush as he walked out of Joe's Tavern in the 1000 block of Dundalk Ave. The detective was at the bar most nights, either working as a security guard or drinking on his nights off, according to testimony. The night he was killed, he was not working at the bar.

The doormen at Joe's Tavern - Cleve Henderson, 50, and Ricky Henson, 44 - were with Newman as he left the bar at the 2 a.m. closing time. They stood next to him in the parking lot as he was shot and fell to the ground, according to testimony.

Henson testified that he saw two men shoot Newman then run to a car and drive off.

"By the time they got in their car, I was looking at them," Henson testified.

Henson jumped into his car, telling Henderson to grab Newman's gun that was on the ground next to his body, he testified. The two men followed the getaway car to the O'Donnell Heights housing complex as they called 911, according to testimony.

The chase led them through O'Donnell Heights, to a road that dead-ended at a cemetery.

The doormen testified they saw three men get out of the car and scatter. Henderson, who had Newman's gun, began shooting at the men and said at least one returned fire.

Henderson said he soon ran out of bullets and thought the incident was over, but then noticed police officers had showed up and were searching for the shooters.

Minutes later, police found House hiding in a utility shed in O'Donnell Heights, where they also found the murder weapon, prosecutors said.

Prosecutor Donald Giblin said House killed the detective in an act of retaliation.

It began in April 2001 when Newman was off duty and was shot twice by a man who had "taunted" him at a Cherry Hill gas station, police said.

Soon after, several men, including 26-year-old Andre Travers, were arrested in the shooting. About a year later, Newman testified at Travers' trial, and Travers was convicted of trying to kill the detective. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Eight months later, Newman was killed. Saunders, one of the defendants charged with killing Newman, is Travers' half-brother.

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