"I can't envision what information you could provide that would affect this ruling."
Smith and Holback told the judge that an agreement between "the defense bar" and the city state's attorney's office absolves prosecutors of their duty to disclose the city lab's protocol to individual attorneys.
FOR THE RECORD - Because an incorrect photograph was supplied to The Sun by the Baltimore Police Department, a picture of the wrong Terry D. Jones appeared on Page 1A yesterday. At left is a photo of Terry Darrell Jones, 24, who is accused of strangling 15-year-old Antiona Mills.
The Sun regrets the errors.
They said the lab manual is available to defense attorneys in the law library of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse.
Watts called the new argument "an 11th-hour attempt to comply with discovery obligations."
The judge said the agreement, if one exists, was irrelevant in the Jones case because Smith herself didn't know about it.
During the hearing Friday, Watts summarized Rhodes' many requests, beginning in November, for the DNA evidence and city lab protocol.
When the trial was scheduled to begin in January, Watts determined that prosecutors hadn't given Rhodes enough time to review DNA evidence. But prosecutors avoided having the evidence thrown out by postponing the trial until May.
In mid-March, Smith sent Rhodes discovery material including the computer disk that she said contained the city crime lab's protocol.
Smith said she believed the disk contained the protocol because her law clerk had accessed its contents and printed everything out.
Days before the May trial date, Smith sent Rhodes another discovery packet with a printout of the city crime lab's protocol - including a section on DNA.
Watts said she was puzzled as to why Smith would send Rhodes a paper copy of the DNA protocol if she believed she had already provided it to him on the disk.
Smith explained that Rhodes had asked for protocol on the lab's handling of handwriting and that she had simply decided to give him "the whole packet" rather than just the handwriting section.
Rhodes said he thought Smith "just kind of slid [the DNA protocol] in the last discovery, maybe hoping that way I wouldn't make an issue of it."
Burns, the state's attorney's office spokeswoman, said Smith made an error and that what transpired in the Jones case illustrates "the need for consistent technical training and supervision by senior prosecutors."
Watts' ruling granted Rhodes' motion to "preclude any and all DNA evidence in this case." She also said the state would not be allowed to seek a postponement - as it had in January - because of the "unusual and extreme circumstances" of the second discovery violation.
Holback told the judge her ruling was "patently unfair" and called it a "draconian measure." Watts responded that the prosecutor's comments were "inappropriate."
Today, prosecutors will tell Watts whether they intend to appeal her ruling on the DNA evidence. If they do appeal, a judge may decide to release Jones from jail in the meantime.
Watts made it clear Friday that she is not inclined to change her mind about throwing out the DNA evidence.
Prosecutors could choose to try the case without DNA. But if they can't proceed, prosecutors will have to drop charges against Jones.
March 8, 2004 --Body of Antiona "Antania" Mills, 15, is discovered wrapped in a sheet in the 2500 block of Talbot Road.
May 2005 --Terry Darrell Jones, who police say was Mills' boyfriend, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. Police say DNA on a terry-cloth belt used to bind Mills' ankles is consistent with Jones' genetic profile.
November 2005 --Defense attorney James Rhodes files a motion requesting DNA evidence and protocols of laboratories that analyzed the DNA. Prosecutors say they did not receive that motion.
Jan. 20, 2006 --Jones' trial scheduled to begin in courtroom of Judge Shirley M. Watts. But Watts rules that Rhodes has not been given enough time with the DNA evidence. Trial is postponed until May.
March 2006 --Rhodes receives some DNA materials, including a computer disk that Assistant State's Attorney Diana Smith says contains the city crime lab's protocol. Rhodes says the disk does not contain the protocol.
April 27, 2006 --Rhodes receives more discovery from Smith, including a printout of the city crime lab's DNA protocol.
May 4, 2006 --Watts hears argument in another Rhodes' motion to preclude DNA evidence because he had not been given the city crime lab's protocol until days earlier. Smith says the March disk contained the protocol. Watts says she'll have a look at the disk and report to the attorneys.
May 5, 2006 --Smith tells Watts in court she has learned the protocol was not on the disk. Watts rules to preclude all DNA evidence in the Jones case.
Today --Prosecutors are to tell Watts whether they will be appealing. If they aren't, they can either proceed without the DNA or drop the charges against Jones.
[Information compiled from court documents, court hearings and Sun archives.]