Evidence against city officers to go to state

State police agree after key items lost

August 08, 2007|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,Sun reporter

With evidence missing in two cases of officers accused of rape, the Baltimore Police Department has asked the Maryland State Police to store all evidence in future police misconduct investigations.

Greg Shipley, state police spokesman, said his agency has verbally agreed to the plan, and lawyers are reviewing a memorandum of understanding before it is made final. City prosecutors also are reviewing the proposal to ensure that no chain-of-custody issues would arise in court.

The move comes after two incidents in which important items in the city Police Department's evidence control unit turned up missing. Both incidents involve police officers who were accused of sexually assaulting women in their custody.

The disappearances are being internally investigated by the department, said city police spokesman Sterling Clifford.

"We want to avoid even the appearance of conflict of interest," Clifford said, "so we approached the state police about securing the evidence."

Clifford and Shipley said their agencies have been discussing the plan for several weeks. The Baltimore Examiner first reported the tentative agreement yesterday.

Last month, The Sun and other news media reported on the missing evidence.

Since at least May, evidence control officers have not been able to locate soiled clothing, a rape kit and other items that were to be used in the trial of Officer William D. Welch.

And in the unrelated rape case against Officer Jemini Jones, frame-by-frame footage of his accuser entering a local hospital emergency room went missing late last year from evidence control. The hospital was able to provide another copy of the surveillance tape, but prosecutors said it wasn't as detailed as the first.

Jones was acquitted. Welch is scheduled for trial in October. His case has been delayed several times over the missing evidence issue.

julie.bykowicz@baltsun.com

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