Judge reduced bail on teen charged in killing after release

Prosecutors requested no bond

situation mirrors another case

October 08, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

For the second time in less than two weeks, a suspect has been accused of committing a violent crime after a Baltimore Circuit Court judge cleared the way for his release from jail.

This time the alleged crime is a homicide. And in this case, the judge who drastically reduced the bail of a Baltimore man - already accused of attempted murder - was following a recommendation by the state Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

The release of Kevin Dorsey has renewed frustrations among Baltimore police and prosecutors who say the city's criminal justice system regularly allows dangerous suspects to return to the streets.

"This case is a perfect example of what we've been saying over and over and over again: We need help from our partners to help reduce the homicide rate," said Police Department spokesman Matt Jablow. "It's outrageous this bail was reduced against the wishes of prosecutors. It's outrageous and dangerous."

Dorsey, 18, had been jailed without bail from June until last month, after his arrest and indictment on attempted murder charges.

But at a hearing Sept. 10, Circuit Judge W. Michel Pierson gave Dorsey the opportunity to be released until trial.

Despite objections from prosecutors, the judge lowered the bail to $35,000 and ordered that if Dorsey posted bail, he would be placed on home detention.

Dorsey posted bail Sept. 18. Eleven days later, he was charged with first-degree murder in the shooting Sept. 28 of Kareem Hanks in West Baltimore. Dorsey is currently being held without bail.

Pierson declined to comment on his bail decision, saying it is the court's policy not to discuss pending cases.

Spokesman Mark Vernarelli of the state correction department said its employees follow guidelines in reviewing the backgrounds of all suspects who appear for bail hearings. They provide that information to judges and can make recommendations on bail. He stressed that judges have the final say.

"Sadly, we do not have a crystal ball to predict human behavior 100 percent of the time," Vernarelli said in a written statement.

Defense attorneys at the law firm representing Dorsey did not return telephone calls seeking comment.

Prosecutors said they are frustrated.

"We as prosecutors believe that we're doing all we can do," said spokeswoman Margaret T. Burns of the city state's attorney's office. "The frustration is that we have so little ability to change a system that is allowing serious violent offenders back onto the streets of Baltimore."

Dorsey's situation mirrors, in several ways, the case of Larry Duane Thomas, 41, of Monkton.

Thomas was arrested in April after he was accused of punching and stabbing his former girlfriend, as well as dragging her from their pickup truck as they drove on Reisterstown Road in Baltimore.

Thomas was being held on $100,000 bail when prosecutors argued in a June 23 hearing against reducing it.

But Circuit Judge Thomas J. S. Waxter Jr. cut the bail to $10,000 and required that Thomas be placed on home detention after posting bail.

Thomas is now a fugitive, accused of threatening the same woman with a knife and a shotgun Sept. 25. He is being sought on an attempted first-degree murder warrant.

Waxter has acknowledged that he erred in releasing Thomas.

In the more recent case, Dorsey had been arrested in late June and charged with attempted murder in the May 28 shooting of a man in West Baltimore.

A court commissioner and a District Court judge ordered him held without bail at Central Booking and Intake Center.

On Sept. 10, during a special bail review before Pierson, Neil M. Janey Jr., Dorsey's attorney, presented an affidavit in which the victim said it was not Dorsey who shot him. The victim also described the shooter as much taller and heavier than the 5-foot-7 Dorsey. Janey asked for $15,000 bail.

A representative from pretrial services said the affidavit was troubling and recommended $25,000 bail and community detention.

Prosecutor Kevin Wiggins of the state's attorney's office argued that Dorsey would be a risk to flee because he had a history of using aliases, was a convicted drug offender and had previously failed to appear in court.

Wiggins also said police have a witness who identified Dorsey as the gunman. And the prosecutor challenged the credibility of the victim who initially told police that he only saw the T-shirts of the shooters.

"All of a sudden now he knows it wasn't [Dorsey]," Wiggins said during the hearing. He recommended that Dorsey be held without bail.

Pierson opted for $35,000 bail and community detention on release.

It was unclear yesterday what type of home monitoring Dorsey was to enter, or whether Dorsey entered any monitoring program at all, state correction officials said.

Sun staff writer Jennifer McMenamin contributed to this article.

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