Witness-killing Case Expected To Go To Jury

April 16, 2009|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,tricia.bishop@baltsun.com

A case against a Baltimore man accused of ordering a witness killing from jail using a contraband cell phone is expected to go to the jury Thursday after prosecutors have their final say in the morning. It is a last chance to address defense claims that the government's star witness - the "glue" holding the case together - is a lying "snake."

Patrick Albert Byers Jr. is accused of ordering Carl Lackl's death to prevent the Rosedale man from testifying against him in a 2006 city murder case. If convicted, he faces the death penalty. His co-defendant, Frank Keith Goodman, a friend of Byers who prosecutors say helped arrange the killing, could face life in prison. Both men are 23.

Closing arguments in the U.S. District Court case began Wednesday in Baltimore.

"They didn't see Carl Lackl as a person, a working man, a family man," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Giblin. "To them, he wasn't even a person. ... He was an obstacle."

Lackl was gunned down in front of his home July 2, 2007, eight days before a state murder trial against Byers was scheduled to begin. After another man recanted, Lackl was the only eyewitness left to identify Byers as the gunman in that case, which was dropped after Lackl was killed.

During closing arguments Wednesday, Byers' attorney raised questions about Lackl's credibility as a witness and said he couldn't have seen Byers because Byers wasn't there.

"Patrick is not guilty straight out" in that killing, defense attorney A. Eduardo Balarezo said, concluding that if Byers wasn't guilty, he had no motive to kill Lackl.

Goodman's attorney, Christopher Davis, also said his client had "absolutely no motive" and questioned the government's reliance on the testimony of a drug-dealing gang member who repeatedly lied to investigators.

Marcus "Pound" Antwan Pearson, 28, is the only person to connect Goodman to the crime, Davis said, adding that "Pound is a snake" trying to save his own skin.

Pearson was brought in multiple times for questioning during the investigation into Lackl's death. Balarezo played more than a dozen clips from the videotaped interviews Wednesday showing what he said was repeated lies. "What did that man not lie about?" Balarezo said.

Pearson pleaded guilty to conspiring in Lackl's killing. He will receive a sentence of 35 years if he offers "substantial assistance," according to a plea agreement.

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