An Anne Arundel County judge ruled Wednesday that a deadly road-rage case involving a New Jersey detective can move forward to trial, despite defense allegations that prosecutors withheld information from a grand jury before it handed up an indictment.
Joseph Lamont Walker, a detective for the Hudson County, N.J., prosecutor's office, is charged with first-degree murder and weapons offenses in the June 8 fatal shooting of Joseph Dale Harvey Jr., a 36-year-old Lansdowne truck driver who grew up in Millersville.
At a hearing Wednesday in Circuit Court, Judge Michael Wachs denied a motion to dismiss the case but ordered lawyers for both sides to stop speaking to the news media. The case has garnered publicity not only in Maryland, but also in New Jersey and New York City.
According to charging documents, Walker's minivan and Harvey's car were both turning from Route 175 onto Route 3 near the merge onto Interstate 97 when the two vehicles swerved toward each other. A passenger in Harvey's car told police he saw Walker point a gun, according to charging documents.
Police reports say both drivers pulled over and got out of the vehicles, and Walker fired three shots at Harvey, killing him. According to police reports, Walker told officers he had identified himself to Harvey as a police officer before the shooting.
Lawyers for Walker filed for a dismissal of the case, alleging that Michael Dunty, an assistant state's attorney for Anne Arundel, and a state trooper misrepresented evidence to the grand jury that indicted Walker on the first-degree murder charge.
Police had initially charged Walker with second-degree murder, and the grand jury elevated the charge.
Charles N. Curlett Jr., a Baltimore-based attorney for Walker, said Dunty and the state trooper told the grand jury all witnesses said they saw Harvey stop and raise his hands before he was shot.
At the hearing Wednesday, Curlett called Dunty to the witness stand and got him to acknowledge that not all of the witnesses saw the shooting. Dunty also acknowledged some of his statements to the grand jury were "inartfully worded."
Curlett also said Dunty didn't tell the grand jury that Walker feared for his life, that his wife called 911 or that Harvey and his passenger had been drinking that day.
In the motion to dismiss the case, Curlett had written that prosecutors caused "irreparable prejudice" against his client, an 18-year law enforcement veteran. Curlett has stated previously that Walker, his wife and their three children were heading home from a family gathering in Odenton.
When the motion to dismiss the case was filed in February, the allegations of misconduct drew a quick response from Anne Arundel State's Attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who said she was "confident" Dunty hadn't done anything wrong.
On Wednesday, Wachs agreed, saying Dunty wasn't required to disclose all information to the grand jury. He ruled that while Dunty's characterization of witness statements was misleading, it didn't amount to misconduct.
A trial date has not been set.