Bernstein heckled while announcing murder conviction

City's top prosecutor spoke on street corner near where victim was killed in 2007

July 30, 2013|By Ian Duncan, The Baltimore Sun

Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein took to the streets Tuesday to announce a recent murder conviction.

A jury last week convicted Phillip Herrell, 32, of first-degree murder in the 2007 shooting of Melvin Jordan, 32, outside a bar just a block up the street from where Bernstein spoke at the edge of the Oliver neighborhood. Prosecutors said Herrell was a member of the Crips gang and attacked Jordan because he was wearing a red shirt, a color associated with the rival Bloods gang.

But the news conference took an unexpected turn when a man pressed in behind a battery of television cameras to express his dissatisfaction with city law enforcement.

"The people you're talking about, it's all well and fine, but for them people you caught, it's like there's 10 more walking around ain't got a cuff on them," the man said, before hustling away from the scene.

Bernstein took the criticism in stride.

"The gentleman's question is exactly why we're here today," he said, adding that his office was focused on convicting the worst violent offenders. "We obviously have a lot more work to do."

Bernstein said prosecutors singled out Herrell, who he said "terrorized" the neighborhood.

"I took office in 2011 promising to aggressively investigate and prosecute the worst of the worst, the violent repeat offenders who are preying on our citizens," he added.

Herrell's attorney, Nick Panteleakis, said his client had been targeted for Bernstein's political purposes and convicted based on a "bunch of rats trying to protect themselves."

"The case was based on unreliable witnesses who gave conflicting testimony," Panteleakis said.

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