Suspect's ex-girlfriend ties him to gun

August 21, 2008|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,Sun reporter

The ex-girlfriend of a man charged with killing an off-duty Baltimore police officer testified yesterday that the defendant playfully pointed a 9mm semiautomatic pistol at her and "clicked" it moments before he left their Dodge Caravan without explanation on the night of the shooting

Kelly Carter testified that she watched her boyfriend at the time, Brandon Grimes, turn the corner onto Fairfax Road in Northwest Baltimore. Then, she said, she heard shots fired.

Worried that Grimes had been shot, she pulled the van around the corner but saw no one, she said. As she circled the block, Grimes called out from the dark and pleaded, "Don't leave me," she said.

Unaware of why Grimes had been shot, Carter testified, she drove him, suffering from a leg wound, to the hospital.

Carter's testimony came on the first day of Grimes' murder trial in the death of Detective Troy Lamont Chesley Sr., 34, who was gunned down as he tried to unlock the front door of his Forest Park apartment in the 4500 block of Fairfax Road after getting off a late shift.

Police believe Grimes, now 23, got out of the van on Jan. 9, 2007, to rob Chesley, who was dressed in plainclothes with a badge clipped to his hip and carrying his keys and a Hawaiian Punch bottle.

Authorities say it's unlikely that Grimes approached Chesley knowing he was a police officer. Carter, now Grimes' former girlfriend, echoed that sentiment.

"I'm not saying Brandon is a saint, but I can't see him taking an officer in uniform," Carter said.

She said she was disappointed and upset at her former boyfriend for involving her in "something [she] didn't even know about."

Carter and the other passenger in the van, Joshua Morris, proved to be effective witnesses for the prosecution. Both placed Grimes in the block of the shooting at the right time, and with the alleged murder weapon - a 9mm Sig Sauer with a laser-targeting device - in his hands the day of the killing.

Morris testified that he saw Grimes showing off the gun in his Oriole Grove neighborhood about noon Jan. 8, 2007, and that Carter said Grimes pointed the pistol at her in the van just before gunfire erupted.

Carter also dismissed defense attorney Roland Walker's theory that she and Chesley were romantically linked. She said she had never seen the officer until detectives showed her his photograph during questioning.

When Walker asked Carter why she was out so "late" - after 1 a.m. - Carter responded, "Because I'm grown."

When Walker questioned her recollection of the evening, noting that the trio had been smoking marijuana in the van, Carter replied that the "blunts" had no effect on her perception. "Sometimes it makes it better," she said to laughter from some jurors.

"When I heard gunshots, my high wore off very quickly," Carter said.

But Carter and Morris also testified that they never saw the shooting or Chesley that night, a point that defense attorney Walker emphasized in his opening statement and cross-examination.

Carter testified that after Morris carried Grimes, who was bleeding from a gunshot wound to his calf, to the Dodge Caravan, Grimes didn't want to be taken to the hospital.

Although she did not know why or how Grimes got shot, she testified that she drove him to St. Agnes Hospital anyway. Along the way, he complained he was cold, then hot and then he began to close his eyes.

Carter testified that she held up photos of his children to motivate him to remain conscious.

Said Carter: "I did care about him."

melissa.harris@baltsun.com

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