Davis Pleads Innocent In Girl's Shooting

Public Defender Releases Footage He Says Could Help Clear His Client

August 12, 2009|By Justin Fenton | Justin Fenton,justin.fenton@baltsun.com

Lamont Davis, the 17-year-old arrested and charged as an adult in the shooting of a 5-year-old girl last month, pleaded not guilty at an arraignment Tuesday as his public defender released closed-circuit camera footage of the incident that he believes could help exonerate his client.

The video was recorded July 2 from an unmanned and constantly rotating camera perched at a Southwest Baltimore intersection. The camera, during a brief pause, captures the incident as it unfolds. A man in a black shirt, cap and khaki shorts can be seen running up to a group of people and firing at another man as the others scatter. The camera swivels and follows the intended target as he runs up Pulaski Street, then rotates again to record the gunman fleeing through an alley.

After the camera pans around the intersection, 5-year-old Raven Wyatt is seen in the distance alone and lying in the middle of the street.

By the time the camera rotates again to the location of the shooting, scores of people are streaming down the street toward her, some visibly upset, as a crowd gathers. A marked police cruiser arrives on the scene within two minutes of the shooting.

Police have said that Davis, who had been arrested 15 times as a juvenile, was wearing a juvenile GPS monitoring device on his ankle that police cut off when he was arrested. The device had apparently not been tracking his whereabouts during the time of the shooting because of a technological quirk.

Linwood Hedgepeth, Davis' defense attorney, said that video shows that the shooter is not wearing a GPS device. He claims that people with knowledge of the incident have viewed the video and say that the man shown on the video is not Davis.

"If one looks at the footage, it's not great, but the shooter seems to be wearing white socks, Bermuda shorts. ... I'm old, my eyes are bad, but I can't see a GPS device," said Hedgepeth, who is a public defender.

Davis is charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder - in the shooting of Raven and of the target, a 17-year-old with whom police believe he had been fighting. The 17-year-old was shot through his forearm; at last report, Raven was in critical but stable condition. Her family has asked that Johns Hopkins Hospital not provide updates on her condition.

Hedgepeth, who Tuesday morning was told but not ordered by Circuit Judge Alfred Nance not to discuss the case publicly, said he has a right to defend his client from the bad publicity of recent weeks and was trying to "untaint the jury pool."

Later Tuesday, Assistant State's Attorney Matthew Fraling sought out Hedgepeth, who was in court for a separate matter, and could be overheard heatedly denouncing the release of the video as prejudicial to potential jurors. Prosecutors said they are considering asking for a gag order.

The attorney also says that witnesses he has spoken to identify another person as the shooter. Hedgepeth questioned whether police had even viewed the video before making an arrest.

Anthony Guglielmi, the Police Department's chief spokesman, declined to address the allegations. "We understand defense attorneys have a role to play," he said. "We will not try our cases in the media - our role will be before a judge."

A source with knowledge of the investigation said detectives have viewed the tape and although it provides images to supplement the witness accounts, it falls short of confirming or excluding any of the players.

According to charging documents, detectives obtained multiple witness statements and Davis was identified as the shooter through photo arrays.

At his arraignment, attorneys said a juvenile court judge had granted a motion to unseal Davis' juvenile records, though the records cannot be disclosed to the public or at trial without permission of the trial judge.

Baltimore Sun reporter Tricia Bishop contributed to this article.

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