Defendant told police revenge was motive in killing of officer

February 11, 2004|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

Jurors hearing the city's first death penalty case in six years listened yesterday to a taped confession in which the defendant admitted being involved in killing a Baltimore police detective -- a slaying he said was motivated by revenge.

Circuit Court jurors heard defendant Jovan House tell police in the hours after the Nov. 23, 2002, killing of Detective Thomas Newman that House's friend, Raymond Saunders, "owed" the officer for once testifying against Saunders' brother.

Saunders' half-brother, Andre Travers, was convicted of shooting and wounding the detective in April 2001. Travers is serving a 30-year sentence.

"I guess he wanted revenge, you know," House told police in a calm voice. "I guess the officer pointed his brother out or something."

Saunders, 22, and Anthony A. Brown, 34, are also charged in the killing and will be tried later. Newman was shot repeatedly in an attack outside a Southeast Baltimore tavern.

House told police that he was just doing a "favor" for a friend and was not paid for being involved in the killing.

"We was drinking. ... I thought I was doing a favor," he said on the tape. "I made a big mistake."

House also told police that he was the "designated driver" for Saunders and Brown.

"I waited in the car," House said. "I was the official driver."

House said he did not shoot the detective, but prosecutors are trying to prove that he did.

On Monday, Joseph Harant, a city police criminologist, testified that he found gunshot residue on House's right and left hands. Harant said that the gunshot residue on House's right hand was "more than I usually find" on a residue test.

Police officers testified last week that 10 minutes after the shooting, they found House hiding in a utility shed in the O'Donnell Heights housing complex. At the time, he was wearing a black shoulder holster.

Police also found the murder weapon -- a 9mm semi-automatic Glock handgun -- in the shed immediately after they arrested House.

In his taped statement, House said that he was found with the weapon because Saunders gave it to him after the shooting.

The killing occurred about 2 a.m. after Newman and two friends walked out of Joe's Tavern in the 1000 block of Dundalk Ave.

Newman 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 men he was with -- Cleve Henderson, 50, and Ricky Henson, 44 -- were doormen at the tavern. They stood next to him in the parking lot as he was shot and fell to the ground, according to testimony.

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