Guilty verdict in killing of officer

Detective was ambushed outside tavern in 2002

Jury `gives further closure'

2 others convicted in case sentenced to life in prison

December 16, 2004|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

The third and final man charged in the ambush and revenge killing of Detective Thomas G. Newman two years ago outside a Southeast Baltimore tavern was convicted yesterday of first-degree murder.

As Newman's mother and his sister and rows of city police officers looked on, a Baltimore Circuit Court jury announced it had found Anthony A. Brown guilty of murder and conspiracy to commit murder -- charges that could mean Brown will spend the rest of his life behind bars. Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr., who presided at the trial, will sentence Brown in February.

The jury, which also found Brown, 36, guilty of using a handgun in the commission of the crime, deliberated for at least 10 hours over two days. When the verdict was announced late yesterday, Newman's relatives nodded slightly, and some of Brown's friends and relatives broke into tears.

Police Maj. Richard C. Fahlteich, commander of the homicide section, said Brown's conviction "gives further closure for the family and further closure for the department.

"Maybe this will bring his family a little more peace for the holidays," he said. "But it shall not bring Tommy Newman back."

In the five-day trial, prosecutors contended that Brown had spotted Newman at Joe's Tavern on Nov. 23, 2002, the night of the killing, had told two men of the off-duty detective's whereabouts and had driven them away from the crime scene after Newman was shot nine times.

Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Fraling described Brown's role as "pivotal and integral." The two men he drove from the crime scene, Jovan House and Raymond Saunders, have been convicted of Newman's murder and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Brown's attorney, Brian J. Murphy, said Brown, who did not have a driver's license, who did not know how to drive a stick-shift vehicle like the one used, and who had been drinking heavily that night, could not possibly have been the getaway driver.

"But there was an eyewitness who saw him coming out of the getaway car," he said, reflecting after the verdict. "That [evidence] was hard to overcome."

He also said he believed jurors might have been influenced by the publicity of "such a horrible crime."

The motive for Newman's killing, prosecutors have said, was revenge for his testimony against Saunders' half-brother, Andre Travers. Newman was shot in April 2001 and testified against Travers, who was then convicted of attempted second-degree murder and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Saunders, to avoid the death penalty that prosecutors were seeking, pleaded guilty two months ago to first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder. and received two life sentences, one without the possibility of parole.

In February, a Baltimore jury convicted House of the same charges but spared his life, sentencing him to two life terms, one without parole.

Fraling said he could see the relief on Newman's relatives' faces after the jury convicted Brown yesterday. They declined to speak to reporters.

Newman, 37, was a 12-year veteran of the force and the father of a young son and daughter. Maj. Frederick H. Taber Jr., who supervised Newman in his last few years on the force, described the detective as hardworking and dedicated.

"His death was a severe loss to the department, to his family, and to the city," he said.

As they do with any fatal police shooting case, uniformed officers turned out by the dozens to listen to testimony and closing arguments during Brown's trial.

Seven other city police officers have been killed in the line of duty since 2000, including Officer Brian D. Winder, 36, who was fatally shot in July during a confrontation with a man he had arrested a week earlier.

His suspected killer, Charles Bennett, committed suicide as police closed in.

Assistant State's Attorney Donald Giblin, who led the prosecution of the three convicted of Newman's killing, also secured a conviction in March 2002 in another fatal police shooting.

Officer Michael J. Cowdery was shot execution-style as he lay dying on a street in East Baltimore. He and another police officer had stopped two men for questioning just before shooting broke out.

Cowdery's killer, Howard "Wee" Whitworth, was sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.

In 2000, four city officers were killed in collisions involving police cruisers. A 17-year-old was acquitted of a murder charge in one of those deaths.

Giblin, a prosecutor for 30 years who handles killings of police officers, said the state's attorney's office takes special care with such cases.

"But hopefully," he said, "I'll never try another cop killer."

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