Woman charged in intimidation

East Baltimorean held in threat to witness about to testify in gun case

March 18, 2009|By Melissa Harris | Melissa Harris,melissa.harris@baltsun.com

A 23-year-old East Baltimore woman has been charged with threatening a witness about to testify in a gun case, causing her to burst into tears, profess that she was going to lie and attempt to flee the courthouse.

Nicole Crapper of the 600 block of Kenwood Ave. is being held without bond after police said she called the witness a "snitch" and said, "Yeah, you know what time it is, I'm down for mine," in the courthouse hallway. Crapper, the ex-girlfriend of defendant Cornell Neals, then dialed his friends on her cell phone, said Detective Morgan W. Jones Jr.

"Yo, she is going to testify," Jones heard Crapper say in the hallway, according to charging documents. "CJ is going to go to jail. Ya'all better get down here now."

Assistant State's Attorney Charles Fitzpatrick told Baltimore Circuit Judge Shirley Watts that police took the hysterical, 23-year-old witness to prosecutors' offices, where she kicked people and had to be handcuffed to stop her from "bolting."

Police removed her handcuffs outside the entrance to the courtroom. In a soft voice, interrupted by deep breaths and long sighs, the witness testified that she was accidentally shot in her lower leg June 22.

But what she said on the stand didn't match what she had told police earlier.

In court, the witness said a man named "Little Dude," who was familiar with Neals' drug operation, broke into the house and retrieved a gun from a vent. As Neals struggled to wrest the gun from the robber, it fired, striking Neals in his hand and the witness in the leg, the witness said.

But in a taped statement to police, she said a friend had warned Neals he was about to be robbed. Neals, 35, then retrieved the gun from the vent in the house in the 3600 block of Everett St. As he loaded the clip, the gun accidentally fired, she said at the time.

"The jury didn't believe a word she said," Neals' defense attorney, Michael Schaech, said. "In the first interview from the hospital, the incident occurred outside on the street. ... By the next interview, it was completely different. All the sudden they're inside a house."

A jury acquitted Neals of gun and reckless endangerment charges March 9. The frightened witness and the detective were the only people to testify for the prosecution.

Neals and Crapper have previously been convicted of drug charges and assault. Neals also has been convicted of robbery.

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