Ankle-monitoring device shows teen was home when girl was shot, lawyer says

April 02, 2010|By Justin Fenton and Brent Jones | Baltimore Sun reporters

The teenager who prosecutors say mistakenly shot a 5-year-old girl after a Baltimore street fight last summer could not have pulled the trigger, the suspect's attorney said in opening statements Thursday, because his ankle-monitoring device showed he was home at the time of the shooting.

Defense attorney Linwood Hedgepeth acknowledged to a city jury that logs show his client, 17-year-old Lamont Davis, was "frequently" in violation of his home monitoring. But he said records show that Davis remained at his Baltimore home from shortly after noon until about 5 p.m. on the day Raven Wyatt was wounded.

The shooting occurred about 4 p.m. July 2 in the 300 block of S. Pulaski St., about a mile from Davis' home.

With the device providing an apparent alibi, the case could hinge on how effective prosecutors will be in convincing jurors that the tracking is flawed.

Prosecutors are expected to expose flaws in a program into which Gov. Martin O'Malley has sunk millions of dollars. State employees and officials from the Nebraska-based vendor of the monitoring program areset to testify.

In her opening remarks, Assistant State's Attorney Diana Smith said that when Davis was arrested, he was still wearing a GPS monitoring bracelet. She said the technology was "a mere technicality and a slight inconvenience" for Davis.

"It was certainly no deterrent to prevent him from going where he wanted to go, when he wanted to go," she said.

Prosecutors also will have to overcome reluctant witnesses, the city's problems with jurors and witness intimidation.

One of the first witnesses called Thursday, a 14-year-old girl who told detectives that Davis was the shooter, recanted her account on the stand and told defense attorneys that she was pressured to make a false identification. When questioned by defense attorneys, she also said an associate of Davis' called her a "snitch" last week.

The intended victim, who suffered minor injuries, said during motions hearings that he "didn't have nothing to say" about the shooting. But he could be called to testify during the trial and be granted immunity.

Before the trial could begin, there were jury problems. One juror was two hours late, and another was replaced after belatedly realizing that she had been a schoolteacher of one of the witnesses.

Davis is charged as an adult with two counts of attempted first-degree murder.

Prosecutors said the shooting stemmed from an argument that the mother of Davis' children had with another teen, Tradon Hicks. Smith said that young woman called several people, "soliciting friends to handle the situation however they saw fit."

When that young woman got off the phone, she was overheard saying, "My baby's father is ready to get it crackin' up in here," Smith said.

Smith said another man, Maurice Powell, got into a fight with Hicks before Davis showed up, and "the bullets start flying." Davis shot at Hicks, but "the blind bullet hit the seeing eyes of Raven Wyatt," Smith said.

Raven was walking home from the store with a cousin when she was struck. Photos introduced into evidence showed her tiny pink sandals and a bag of hair beads along with a pool of blood in the street.

Officer Monica Nashan, a three-year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department, cried as she recounted arriving at the scene and seeing the injured girl.

"I saw a crowd of people, and I saw … " she said before pausing to compose herself.

Nashan said she saw the gunshot wound to the child's head. The girl had a weak pulse, which she lost, and Nashan performed CPR. Raven slipped into a coma.

The child, however, is recovering. She is home and receiving physical therapy.

Her speech is slowed and her movements stilted, but her family and her doctors are encouraged by her progress.

Raven's mother, Danielle Brooks, dabbed her eyes with a tissue before leaving the courtroom during Nashan's testimony.

Hedgepeth told jurors the wrong person was charged. He said Powell was the shooter and that the GPS clears Davis.

The trial is scheduled to continue today.

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