A judge released actress Felicia "Snoop" Pearson, known for her role as a hitwoman on HBO's The Wire, from jail yesterday after she was picked up this week on a warrant alleging her refusal to cooperate with prosecutors handling a murder case in which she is a witness.
At a Circuit Court hearing yesterday, an attorney for Pearson, who had planned to be in New York for the filming of a movie, told Judge John Addison Howard that she had not received court notices and was willing to "honor her obligations" as a witness to a 2005 killing.
"She will honor what is required of her, but I'm not sure how happy she is in cooperating now that the state's attorney's office had her arrested and had homicide officers breaking down her door," said defense attorney Brad Goldbloom. "If that's how they're trying to get her assistance, I'm not sure it's working."
Authorities believe Pearson witnessed Steven James Lashley stab three men, killing one, after an argument that began outside New York Fried Chicken on The Block in the fall of 2005. The trial, which has been postponed multiple times this year, is scheduled to begin Sept. 16.
A warrant was issued July 1 after Pearson, 28, failed to appear at an April trial date and told a prosecutor that she "wished to have no further personal contact with her about this case," according to court records. She had requested witness protection assistance but did not follow through, officials said yesterday. She then failed to appear at a July 7 trial date.
Members of the police homicide unit forced entry into her home Wednesday morning to pick her up on the warrant. Once inside, they observed two cigars containing suspected marijuana and "loose plant material" in plain view, police said. As a result, she was also charged with one count of drug possession.
Pearson, who was convicted of second-degree murder at age 16 and served time in prison before landing the part on The Wire, was led into the courtroom yesterday shackled at the legs and hands, limping and wincing due to cuts on the back of her feet apparently caused by the cuffs.
In a memoir released last year, she detailed her struggle to leave a behind a troubled past.
Prosecutor Doug Guidorizzi said it was believed Pearson had stopped cooperating when her role in the murder case was publicized earlier this year, though he acknowledged that most efforts to contact her had been through intermediaries, including her film agent and a former defense attorney, and it was not clear whether she had ever signed a summons.
Guidorizzi asked that she be held on $50,000 cash bail to "ensure her appearance."
Howard told Pearson that the warrant might have been issued in error, though he added that it was apparent that one likely would have had to be issued at some point. She was released and assigned to pretrial supervision, which means she will be required to be in weekly contact with court officials.
As she was led from the courtroom, Pearson told a reporter, "Don't slander me. I'm from here."