Witness killed, case dropped

Officials say murder case now too weak

defendant is freed

September 27, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,Sun reporter

Anne Arundel County prosecutors have dropped murder charges against a Brooklyn Park teenager accused in a November killing after a key witness who was scheduled to testify in the case was killed.

Lamal Lamonte Wise, 18, was released Friday after prosecutors determined their case was too weak without the testimony of Dontay Williams, the state's attorney's office said yesterday.

"Unfortunately, with the death of Mr. Williams came the death of our crucial piece of evidence in the case," said Kristin Riggin, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office. "Without that crucial piece of testimony, we did not have enough information to move forward."

Police have not determined whether Williams, 21, who was to testify against Wise, was killed in retaliation for agreeing to testify.

Timothy Marvin Wilson, 20, of the 2500 block of Mosher St. in West Baltimore, was shot about 10 p.m. Nov. 15, 2006, at Victory Avenue and East 11th Avenue in Brooklyn Park. He died at a hospital.

A warrant charging Wise, who was 17 at the time, of the 200 block of W. 11th Ave. as an adult with first-degree murder was issued in December. He soon turned himself in.

On Aug. 29, Williams and Dequincey Antonio Smith, 24, were shot to death in an apartment in the 200 block of Southerly Road in Brooklyn Park.

Julia Scovens, Wilson's grandmother, said she is convinced that Williams was killed because of his impending testimony and that her grandson's killer is walking free. She said the three young men knew each other.

"There's nothing I can do," said Scovens, 65, of Baltimore. "That man that killed [my grandson], they're setting him free ... and I believe they killed Dontay, too."

Wise's attorney, Michael E. Kaminkow, said his client has maintained his innocence since his arrest in December and that Williams, who was convicted last year on drug charges, was not a credible witness.

Kaminkow also said the evidence in the case - shell casings found on both sides of the sidewalk and in the street where Wilson was killed - did not support Williams' claim that the killing was a drive-by shooting.

"The state's case was always questionable. ... Quite frankly, I always felt that Dontay Williams himself was a better suspect than my client," Kaminkow said.

Riggin said Williams was arrested in June after twice failing to show up for grand jury hearings and telling prosecutors he would not testify. He was released in July on the condition that he would check in with prosecutors daily, which he did, Riggin said.

"He was very cooperative," Riggin said.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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