Charge of witness killing dropped

April 16, 2008|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,Sun reporter

Baltimore prosecutors dropped murder charges yesterday against a man accused in a fatal shooting in East Baltimore, saying a trial might interfere with his pending federal trial on charges that he ordered the killing of a witness in the case.

Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia Banks told a Circuit Court judge that her office would not pursue the case against Patrick Byers -accused of killing Larry Haynes on March 4, 2006 - "in deference to federal prosecutors."

Joseph Sviatko, a spokesman for State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, said in a statement that state law sets a "high threshold" for introducing at trial statements the witness, Carl Stanley Lackl, made before he was killed.

"In the final analysis, it became clear as part of our ongoing joint partnership with the U.S. Attorney's Office that federal prosecution of Byers would maximize prosecution efforts and ensure the best possible outcome," he wrote.

Byers, 22, and three co-defendants were indicted on federal charges of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire. Byers faces a minimum sentence of life in prison and a maximum sentence of the death penalty if he is convicted in the federal case.

Lackl, 38, had seen a man shoot another man in an alley and later identified Byers as the shooter. Prosecutors allege that Byers, from his jail cell and with the help of a friend, hired members of the Bloods gang to shoot Lackl in front of his Baltimore County home.

Prosecutors said that on July 2 the suspects lured Lackl outside by pretending interest in buying a Cadillac he was selling. All state charges against the alleged shooter, 16-year-old Johnathan Ryan Cornish, have been dropped, and he was not named in the federal indictment.

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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