The attempted-murder trial of Lamont Davis, accused of mistakenly shooting a 5-year-old girl during a Baltimore street fight, was postponed at the state's request for the third time Friday, because a DNA lab analysis of items left at the scene has not yet come in.
The prosecution also said it was held up by a mountain of newly released data from the state Department of Juvenile Services about offenders participating in a GPS monitoring system, as Davis was at the time of the shooting. But a judge didn't buy that as a relevant reason for postponement.
"The court has no interest" in it, said Circuit Judge Lynn K. Stewart, who referred the matter to administrative court for a new trial date.
The data matter to others throughout the state, however. It concerns the tracking information for dozens of juvenile offenders who wore a GPS device as part of a system that uses global positioning technology to track their whereabouts. Davis, 17, was among them on the day of the July 2 shooting.
That's made the case closely watched by law enforcement and politicians who question whether the system does what it says. Maryland invested $1 million in it a year ago to keep tabs on juvenile offenders, but critics have raised concerns that it is too easily thwarted.
Davis, who was supposed to be wearing the GPS device strapped to his ankle, is accused of catching Raven Wyatt in the crossfire while aiming at someone else.
Police say they cut the GPS device off him when he was arrested two days later. But there have been conflicting accounts. At one point, Davis was said to have cut it off himself. Another claim said the device was not working because of a technological glitch, and still another says it was working and shows Davis was not in the area of the shooting.
Some hope the confusion will be cleared up by data, though the state plans to proceed against Davis even if the information doesn't support it. And defense attorney Linwood Hedgepeth isn't relying on the data, either. He plans to call as witnesses a vice president from the company that makes the system and five employees from the Department of Juvenile Services, which monitors it.
That means the state may be cross-examining other state agencies to prove its case.
Further complicating things is a fuzzy surveillance video that shows the shooting. Hedgepeth says it cancels out claims by the state's witnesses and shows his client was not the shooter. He asked Friday that the photographic evidence at least be viewed in court, but was told it was better that the trial judge, whomever that might be, see it later.
That was another blow for Hedgepeth, who's eager to try the case. When the DNA postponement request was made, he suggested the delay was intentional and implored the court to expedite the trial.
But prosecutor Diana Smith said the high volume of crime in the city has created a backup in DNA analysis. And the administrative judge seemed to agree.
"If she's being strung along, she's at least the eighth, ninth, 10th state's attorney being strung along in a similar fashion," said Circuit Judge Pamela White, who had seen a parade of prosecutors with the same claim since Monday.
Smith plans to ask that the case be specially set before a retired judge on March 29, though Hedgepeth requested that the court consider trying the case sooner if possible.
"We've been ready every time," he said.
Timeline of events
July 2: : 5-year-old Raven Wyatt is struck by an errant bullet in Southwest Baltimore
July 4: : Police arrest Lamont Davis and charge him with the crime
Aug. 11:: Davis pleads not guilty at his arraignment; his attorney releases surveillance video that he claims exonerates Davis
Oct. 2:: The first trial date is postponed at the state's request because of witness issues and missing DNA analysis
Nov. 2:: The second trial date is postponed at the state's request because of the lacking DNA information, further investigation and new state's evidence
Dec. 11:: The state Department of Juvenile Services gives prosecutors 5,000 pages of GPS tracking data in response to a Freedom of Information Act request
Jan. 8: : The third trial date is postponed at the state's request because the DNA analysis is still not available