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SCHOOL DELAYS

Two families, one death and one verdict

Felicia Carroll still opens her son's bedroom door to say, "Hi."

Months after Kendall Green's killing, Carroll also finds comfort hanging photos of her son. She recently found enough courage to visit his grave in Pasadena.

"I'm a shell of the person I used to be," she said. "The loss of a child is something no mother should have to go through, let alone the murder of one's child."

Not far from Green's grave, a Glen Burnie family tries to get through the aftermath of a fatal shooting at their home.

Matthew Pinkerton has since washed the blood off his porch, touched it up with paint, and done his best to make his home look different.

"It's hard to walk up this step every day knowing someone died here," he said.

In September, Pinkerton, 35, shot and killed Green, 25, after Green came through the front door of the Pinkertons' home in Glen Burnie.

Police charged Pinkerton with second-degree murder and other offenses. He was later indicted by a county grand jury.

A county judge last month acquitted Pinkerton of second-degree murder, manslaughter and weapons charges, siding with defense attorneys who argued there wasn't enough evidence to convict. The case never went to the jury.

The ruling came as a relief to the members of the Pinkerton family, who are trying to put their lives back together after a traumatic experience.

State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess said she "respectfully disagrees" with the decision by Circuit Court Judge William Mulford II.

Green's family, meanwhile, wants the U.S. Department of Justice to get involved.

"My purpose moving forward is to pay attention to the injustice and seek justice in my son's death," Carroll said.

The incident

Green and Pinkerton had known each other since 2010 or 2011. They were introduced by the brother of Pinkerton's wife, Jessica.

Prosecutors and defense attorney Peter O'Neill said during the trial that Matthew Pinkerton suspected his wife was having an affair. Jessica has denied she was in an intimate relationship with Green.

"We were friends, we were supporters," she said.

In August 2012, Pinkerton, a technical sergeant in the Air Force, returned home from Korea to find Green in his house with his wife.

Pinkerton said Green refused to leave and threatened him. Prosecutors said Pinkerton retrieved his son's BB gun and shot it at Green during the confrontation, then warned a neighbor that Green had better not return to the home, and that if Green did, he was "going to have a problem."

Prosecutors said Pinkerton's actions that day were a precursor to the killing 13 months later.

"The fact that the defendant actually fired some sort of weapon at the victim shows his intent to harm and willingness to pursue violence regarding the situation," Assistant State's Attorney Brian Marsh wrote in court documents.

The two men had another run-in at the House of Tropicals pet store in Glen Burnie in August 2013, during which Green is alleged to have bumped into or shoved Pinkerton, O'Neill said.

Pinkerton said Green threatened him several times, but that he didn't file a report for any of those incidents. Green stood 6 feet, 6 inches; Pinkerton is 5 feet, 9 inches.

"The last thing I wanted was a guy who's a foot taller than me, who has resentment toward me, to be further enticed to come after me because I filed a police report," Pinkerton said.

Pinkerton said that around 2 a.m. Sept. 15, 2013, he fell asleep in his living room after a night out with Jessica and a group of friends.

One of their friends, Michael Aro, who had moved into their house three months earlier due to his own marital problems, joined them. So did Carrie McPherson of Jessup and two other people, including Jessica's brother.

Pinkerton said he woke up to the sound of Green knocking on his door. Prosecutors said the couple was awake when Green arrived.

Pinkerton said any time someone knocks on his door after 9 p.m., he collects his gun before answering.

At first, there was a mild-mannered conversation, Pinkerton said. But he said that when Green asked for Jessica, he told him, "You have no business being here."

Pinkerton said when he closed the door, Green became angry and started breaking it down. Prosecutors dispute that claim, saying the door was closed but Green never broke it down.

Pinkerton said he saw the door open, and that Green's hand reached toward his hip. Green was unarmed, but Pinkerton said he thought Green was reaching toward a weapon. He said he shot Green twice in self-defense.

"I thought for sure we would be dead," Pinkerton said. "I think the firearm saved me, if not all of us, from significant harm, if not death."

Minutes later Green was dead on the front porch, bleeding from two gunshot wounds to his chest.

"Each person here that night was a victim," Pinkerton said.

In court, O'Neill told jurors his client acted in self-defense to protect himself and his family from a violent man.

Prosecutors said Pinkerton acted out of revenge for Green's affair with Jessica. They also say Pinkerton uttered a racial slur twice before the killing, which provoked Green to enter the house.

Mulford ruled before the trial that jurors couldn't hear the racial slur, saying it would be too prejudicial to Pinkerton. Prosecutors wanted that evidence admitted because they said it would show Pinkerton's state of mind.

Witnesses testified that when Green started entering the house, he told Pinkerton to utter the racial slur to his face. Pinkerton again warned Green to leave, then opened fire.

Leitess took issue with O'Neill's assertion that the case was a home invasion, and that Pinkerton was defending his home.

Personal animosity was the main factor, she said.

"This is not the case we worry about in the middle of the night when you wake up and someone is breaking into our home," Leitess said.

The state cannot re-try Pinkerton for the killing.

The aftermath

Carroll said she visited the court every day, even though it was difficult to hear about the incident and to see the image of her son's shirt, once red, turned burgundy from his blood.

Carroll said she was shocked Mulford would not allow the jury to make its own decision.

"I know Mr. Pinkerton got away with murder and there is no remorse," she said.

Green's family is also calling the incident a hate crime.

According to the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, a hate crime is an act that appears to be completely or partly motivated by race, color, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender or disability.

While the commission is aware of Green's killing, it has no comment on the incident, said executive associate Spencer Dove.

The Green family has joined with the NAACP to ask for a federal investigation into the incident.

The organization held a demonstration outside the Anne Arundel County Courthouse in Annapolis on June 26. There will be another on Thursday.

"To use the N-word before you kill someone is a hate crime," Carroll said. "If (Pinkerton) was black, he would be in jail. If my son murdered him, he would be in jail. This is clearly a race issue."

The county branch of the NAACP wrote a letter to the U.S. House of Representatives on the case. It says, in part:

"Given the fact that there have been several cases in Anne Arundel County, which had racial undertones, and considering the fact that both the county police and prosecutors feel that a miscarriage of justice has occurred, we respectfully urge you to refer this matter to the Justice Department for their review and immediate action."

Pinkerton denies that he used racial slurs before shooting Green. He said the NAACP pressured the Green family to advance its own political agenda.

"To allege I hated him is a gross and false statement," Pinkerton said. "Was I upset with Mr. Green? Of course. I was upset and scared when he kicked down my door and attempted to attack me. But even now I don't hate Mr. Green. I don't hate his family."

Decisions

Shortly after Mulford's decision, Pinkerton posted a message on a Facebook page dedicated to his case, asking people to be "professional" and "not condescending" toward the State's Attorney's Office, and to think about Green and his family.

"I ask that you pray for Mr. Green's family as they move on and accept the loss of their loved one," Pinkerton wrote. "Mr. Green was a son, a brother, grandson and a friend to many. I ask that you pray for a grieving mother and father who will forever mourn the loss of a son."

While Pinkerton said he is elated Mulford agreed the murder was self-defense, he still has to live with the incident for the rest of his life.

He said people have driven by his house shouting "murderer," and, because freedom of speech is legally guaranteed, nothing can be done about it.

Pinkerton said the shooting has affected him emotionally. He said he can't watch his children play with toy guns.

"I've relived that night for the last nine months," he said. "It consumes my thoughts."

His wife, Jessica, said the last nine months have been an emotional roller coaster. She said she sometimes takes out her anger on her husband.

Not knowing if he would go to jail has been stressful for the entire family, she said.

"For nine months we've struggled to make any future plans," Jessica said. "We didn't know where Matt would be."

Due to the nature of the charges, the Air Force took measures so Pinkerton wouldn't be exposed. He's providing tech support when he can and might be relocated to another base.

"I don't know where my Air Force career stands," he said.

Carroll said she will continue to fight for justice for her son, who, while not perfect, was a loving, charismatic, loyal 25-year-old who cared about his family.

"Everyone talks about the decision Kendall made that night," Carroll said, "but no one talked about the decision Matthew made that night."

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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