Crime Watch

October 02, 2007

New trial is rejected in rape-murder case

A Baltimore Circuit Court judge has rejected a request for a new trial from a Baltimore man who says that new DNA testing clears him and a co-defendant of the rape and murder of a young woman two decades ago.

In a ruling dated Aug. 24 and released yesterday by city prosecutors, Judge Marcella A. Holland wrote that while the DNA evidence shows that James Thompson Jr. did not commit the rape, it "does not show that the petitioner is innocent of the underlying crime of burglary, coupled with his confession stating that he burglarized the house as the victim was murdered."

Thompson and co-defendant James Owens Jr. were convicted in 1988 of stabbing and strangling Colleen Williar in her Southeast Baltimore rowhouse during what police and prosecutors described as a burglary that became a rape and murder. The men are serving life sentences, Owens without chance of parole.

Last year, testing of semen recovered from the woman's body and kept by the medical examiner's office showed that it belonged to neither of the men convicted.

In the spring, prosecutors joined Owens' defense attorney in requesting a new trial, which a judge granted. Owens is scheduled for an arraignment this month.

Slurs painted on 2 roads

Racial slurs, swastikas, sexually explicit images and references to the Ku Klux Klan were found spray-painted last weekend on roads in two rural locations, in northwest Carroll County and less than a mile away in Frederick County.

The sheriff's offices in Carroll and Frederick counties are investigating the vandalism incidents, which authorities said occurred late Friday or early Saturday, as potential hate crimes.

Lt. Phil Kasten, Carroll County sheriff's spokesman, said several hundred feet of sparsely populated Lehigh Road was vandalized near Union Bridge, and a similar incident occurred on Clemsonville Road in Frederick County.

Cpl. Jennifer Bailey, Frederick County sheriff's spokeswoman, said a Lehigh Cement Co. sign and five mailboxes also were defaced along Clemonville Road.

The graffiti, containing racial slurs and other offensive images, were sprayed in green, yellow, white and black paint, Kasten said.

Anyone with information about the incidents should contact the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, at 410-386-2900, or the anonymous hot line, at 888- 399-8477.

Laura McCandlish

Stabbing report doubted

Baltimore County police said yesterday that they expect to charge a man with making a false statement to officers after he reported that he had been stabbed Saturday at a Maytag store in Timonium.

Officers responding to a call about 2:20 p.m. at the store in the first block of Ridgely Road found a man with a stab wound to the groin, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a police spokesman.

Investigators found inconsistencies in the man's statement and believe that he had stabbed himself with an undetermined object, Hill said. The man was treated at Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Hill said that the man, who is homeless, has made false statements to officers in the past.

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