With prosecutors describing the fatal shooting of a police detective as a Shakespearean-like tragedy with clear heroes and villains, the trial started yesterday for the final man implicated in the ambush that killed Thomas G. Newman more than two years ago.
Anthony A. Brown, 36, is charged with first-degree murder for his alleged role in a plot to kill Newman. Prosecutors say Brown drove the getaway car in which two other men fled after they shot Newman nine times outside Joe's Tavern in Southeast Baltimore on Nov. 23, 2002.
In his opening statement, Assistant State's Attorney Donald Giblin linked the killing to revenge for Newman's testimony against the half-brother of one of the men.
"What happened to Detective Newman was street justice," Giblin told the Circuit Court jury. Brown "conspired with and acted ... with two other men in the execution of Detective Thomas Newman."
Brown's attorney, Brian Murphy, cautioned the jury to look past the "very bad things" they might hear about the other two men convicted in the killing and to differentiate between evidence that pertains to them and to Brown.
"Once all is said and done, I believe the evidence will not be sufficient to show beyond a reasonable doubt ... that Mr. Brown is guilty, for one simple reason," Murphy said. "He isn't guilty of these crimes."
Testimony in the trial will continue today.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of life in prison without parole for Brown.
The death penalty was originally sought for the other two defendants, Raymond Saunders and Jovan House. Saunders pleaded guilty in October, receiving a sentence of life in prison without parole. House was sentenced to life in prison without parole after a jury trial in February.
Giblin said that Newman had been wounded in April 2001 and testified against his two attackers, who were sentenced to 30 years in prison. One was Andre A. Travers, the half-brother of Saunders.
"In a perfect world, ... justice had been served," said Giblin, referring to that case. "We do not live in a perfect world."
More than a year later, Newman, a 12-year police veteran, was at Joe's Tavern. That night, Giblin said, Brown was also at the bar and informed several people at a house in the O'Donnell Heights complex -- including Saunders -- of Newman's whereabouts. Saunders, House and Brown walked to the bar and returned to the house to borrow a car, Giblin said.
After the bar closed, Newman was in the parking lot when House and Saunders fired, striking Newman nine times, the prosecutor said. The two shooters jumped into a nearby "waiting, running getaway car and sped away," Giblin said.
The bar's security guards, Cleve Henderson and Ricky Henson, took Newman's gun, jumped into a car and followed the assailants, who stopped in the O'Donnell Heights housing complex. Henderson chased and exchanged gunfire with House, who was found by police hiding in a shed.
Henson, meanwhile, said he witnessed Brown drop his coat on the ground and was there when Brown's two teenage nephews tried to retrieve it. Giblin noted that it was the same distinctive suede coat with NBA logo patches that Henson had seen worn by the man who came into Joe's Tavern earlier.