Detention at home for murder suspect OK'd

Prosecutors object

defendant jailed for now

October 23, 2004|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Baltimore County prosecutors objected this week when a judge agreed to release on home detention a man awaiting trial for allegedly shooting to death a friend in a drug deal gone bad.

Yesterday, even the owner of the private home-monitoring company assigned to keep tabs on 27-year-old Keevin Ramond Butler objected to the arrangement, telling the judge that he didn't want the murder defendant on his client roster.

"It's a serious charge, and you'd just as soon not have him under your wing?" Baltimore County Circuit Judge J. Norris Byrnes asked during a hearing yesterday.

Charles Winchester, owner of Advantage Sentencing Alternative Programs Inc., responded, "In a nutshell, yes, your honor."

Because Butler had not posted bail, he will remain in the Baltimore County Detention Center until jail staff decide whether to accept him into their own pretrial home detention program. A hearing is scheduled for Tuesday.

The Sun reported this month on three suspects accused of committing violent crimes while on court-ordered home detention in Baltimore City, and reported that in many cases registering for the home-monitoring programs is left up to the defendant. State lawmakers scheduled a hearing for next week to address concerns about the oversight of private home monitoring.

Winchester, a retired police officer who said his company, known as A.S.A.P., monitors between 100 and 200 criminal defendants at a time, said it was the murder charge that made him reluctant to accept Butler into his program.

"We've had them on before," he said of murder suspects. "But when you do get them that are that serious, you have to carefully regulate their time and put them on a higher alert."

Stephen Bailey, Baltimore County's deputy state's attorney, argued in court against releasing Butler on home detention. He said that while such programs have their place in the criminal justice system, "I just don't think it should be in supervising pretrial inmates who are charged with murder."

Butler, of the 8100 block of Streamwood Drive in Pikesville, is charged with first-degree murder in the July 22 shooting of Jesse James Winchester Jr., 21, at Winchester's residence in the first block of Applegate Court in Pikesville.

Butler had gotten a ride to Winchester's home about 8:30 p.m. from a pizza delivery man with whom he was acquainted and who was looking to buy marijuana, according to court records and prosecutors. When Butler and Winchester got into an argument on the porch, Butler pulled a handgun from his waistband and shot his friend in the chest, according to court documents.

Butler's attorney, Carol Daisey, said the two men were best friends and that the shooting amounts to "something less than murder."

Noting Butler's solid family life, stable employment as a UPS driver and a criminal record that consists of one charge of marijuana possession for which he received probation before judgment, Daisey said her client is a good candidate for pretrial home detention.

Byrnes, the judge, agreed, deciding at a bail review hearing Monday to grant Butler's request to set bail and allow the man to be released into A.S.A.P.'s program. Butler had been held without bond. Byrnes set bail at $100,000.

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