City judge rejects moving trial of officers in inmate's death

June 23, 2006|By JULIE BYKOWICZ

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge ruled yesterday that the trial of three correctional officers accused of beating to death Raymond K. Smoot will remain in the city, rejecting a defense motion for change of venue.

Dameon C. Woods, Nathan D. Colbert and James L. Hatcher are charged with second-degree murder in the case, which is scheduled for trial in September. They are accused of fatally attacking Smoot, 51, in May 2005 in his cell at the city Central Booking and Intake Center.

Defense attorneys for the officers argued the change-of-venue motion in a hearing last month before Circuit Judge John M. Glynn.

The amount of publicity the case has received, combined with continuing allegations of problems at Central Booking - where people arrested in the city are often housed before trial - has tainted the city's pool of potential jurors, the defense attorneys argued.

Glynn wrote in a ruling issued yesterday that the defense "had not met the strenuous burden of showing that a fair and impartial trial cannot be obtained."

"While it is true that the fact of the alleged murder and its apparent brutality was widely reported," Glynn wrote, "little has been said regarding the details of the evidence, or why the State has chosen to indict these particular Defendants."

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