Federal prosecution rests in firebomb case

CRIME WATCH

Baltimore & Region

December 09, 2005|By MATTHEW DOLAN | MATTHEW DOLAN,SUN REPORTER

Federal prosecutors rested their case yesterday against three men charged in the firebombing of the home of a North Baltimore community activist, but arguments from defense attorneys to throw out the charges could reopen the evidence phase of the trial next week.

At issue is whether the defendants - Nakie Harris, 30, Terrance Smith, 24, and Richard Royal, 21 - should have been charged in federal court.

Defense attorneys argued before U.S. District Judge J. Frederick Motz yesterday that their clients should not have been charged with federal witness tampering because the victim, Harwood Community Association President Edna McAbier, had reported drug activity in the neighborhood to local authorities.

Prosecutors said the defendants planned the firebombing to kill McAbier.

Motz agreed with Assistant U.S. Attorney A. David Copperthite that the case could go forward under one of two conditions: Instruct the jury that drug dealing can be charged as a federal crime or call an additional witness to show how local and federal authorities often work together on drug cases.

Motz warned that both could offer grounds for appeal. Closing arguments are expected to be held Monday.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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