Murder charge reduced to handgun violation

Man says he fired in self-defense

June 18, 2008|By Melissa Harris

A 22-year-old Baltimore man charged with murder pleaded guilty yesterday to a handgun charge and was sentenced to time served in prison and probation.

The case was complicated by the fact that another man, Christopher Ford, then 17, had confessed to and was charged with killing Neil "Pills" Rather, 18, who died in a parking lot in the 3400 block of Clifton Ave. in Walbrook Junction.

Evidence later showed that Ford's gun, which he had dropped, did not match the bullet recovered from the victim's body. And police interviewed Andre Haskins, who also confessed to the crime but said that he fired once at Ford and Rather in self-defense.

He said that the two teens had tried to rob him on the front steps of his house in the 2100 block of Garrison Blvd. and fired at him first.

"Christopher Ford and Neil Rather walked up to my client's front steps and pulled a gun on him," Haskins' defense attorney, Janice Bledsoe, said yesterday.

If Haskins, who until yesterday had no criminal record, violates his probation, Baltimore Circuit Judge John P. Miller could sentence him to up to three years in prison.

"The outcome of this case rests squarely on the issue that the defendant had a viable self-defense argument," said Assistant State's Attorney Diana Smith.

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