Defendant in double killing gives evasive answers on stand

Kenneth Perry denies involvement but is vague on his whereabouts; jury begins deliberations

February 07, 2011|By Nick Madigan, The Baltimore Sun

Kenneth D. Perry, accused of fatally shooting two women 12 years ago — one through the top of her head as she likely begged for her life, a prosecutor said — took the stand in his own defense Monday but gave vague and confrontational testimony.

The sole exception was his answer to whether he had killed his former girlfriend, LaShawn Jordan, in her Reservoir Hill apartment on July 10, 1998. "Hell no," he replied. Asked if he had killed her friend, Kelly Bunn, who was pregnant, he said, "No."

Perry, 45, who was testifying against his lawyer's advice, invoked his constitutional rights and objected to a prosecutor's question as though he were an attorney. Asked if he recalled the killings of the two women, he paused for a moment and said, "I remember the incident, but I don't remember the murder."

Invited by his attorney, Janice Bledsoe, to describe his whereabouts around the time of the killings, Perry said he was with another girlfriend, Tanya Watts, a response that seemed to take his lawyer by surprise. "Why isn't she here to testify?" Bledsoe asked him. "That's something I've been meaning to ask you," he answered.

Bledsoe again asked the defendant where he was on the morning of the killings. "I was still in Maryland at the time," he said, after some thought. Perry was arrested on drug charges two years later in California, where prosecutors said he had been living under an assumed name.

He was convicted of the killings in 2001 and sentenced to life without parole, but a judge ordered the case retried after it was revealed that a prosecutor, Cassandra Costley, had withheld some evidence from the defense. The new trial began in Baltimore Circuit Court a week ago.

Assistant State's Attorney Michael E. Leedy asked the defendant where he had gone after July 10, 1998. "I shoot pool for a living," Perry said, adding that he went to play in Las Vegas and Atlanta. He ended up in California, he said, "to see one of my children," but was noncommittal as to whether he had used a friend's name — Roger Patrick Ross — as his own while living there.

Perry was more definitive when asked whether he had been known as "Frankie" by Jordan's daughter, Jewel Williams, who was present at the shootings and who used his nickname to identify him as the killer. After a long silence, the defendant said, "Yes."

It was the last question for Perry — the defense's only witness — before both sides rested their cases. Out of the presence of the jury, Bledsoe asked Judge Stuart R. Berger to acquit the defendant on the premise that his trial was a "one-eyewitness case" and therefore insufficient for conviction. Berger cited case law to the effect that a single witness "can be enough to identify the defendant."

After closing arguments, jury members began considering the case. They did not reach a verdict by late afternoon and were to resume deliberating on Tuesday.

nick.madigan@baltsun.com

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