Baltimore homicide detectives have made an arrest in one of the open murder cases cited in an internal Police Department memo that accused prosecutors of holding up cases.

The killing had been among five cases that the acting commander of the city homicide unit cited in a memo to top commanders in which he said prosecutors were "stalling and hindering" detectives' ability to close cases. He concluded that the strategies of police and prosecutors were "not marrying up cohesively," The Baltimore Sun reported Wednesday.

Under a long-standing but informal agreement, police do not charge suspects in murder cases without approval from prosecutors.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said prosecutors and police met to talk about how to strengthen the cases, which led to the issuing of an arrest warrant.

"Collaboration moved this case forward," Guglielmi said.

Police said they arrested Frederick Morrison, 27, and charged him with first-degree murder in the shooting of 29-year-old David McKoy, who was killed July 15 in the first block of N. Franklintown Road.

Records show that the warrant was obtained Wednesday and Morrison was taken into custody Thursday.

State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein vowed during his campaign that he would have the "courage" to take on tough cases and said he'd be less reluctant than his predecessor to take on cases with only one witness. The memo lists cases in which police said they had as many as seven witnesses, but claimed prosecutors wouldn't give them the green light to charge.

On Wednesday, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said she was "concerned" about the situation.

"I'm concerned that the prosecutors and police need to work together," Rawlings-Blake said, according to television reports. "The only way we're going to have a safer city is if they're working together. We need to, on a daily basis, make sure that's happening."

Bernstein has refused to comment on the memo beyond saying through a spokesman that there was "room to grow" in his agency's relationship with police. Guglielmi said the memo represented a "narrow view of the process," and he criticized homicide detectives for solving only 43 percent of the city's homicides this year.

Both agencies asserted that officials meet regularly and enjoy a strong working relationship, and said the issues raised in the memo were being addressed. Asked what moved the arrest of Morrison forward, police said there had been continuing discussions about how to improve cases; after the police memo was drafted, prosecutors came back with their concerns.

"We tried to make those cases stronger," Guglielmi said.

Little was known about McKoy's killing, as charging documents were not immediately available. Guglielmi said a man approached McKoy at 2 p.m. July 15 and shot him several times before fleeing. Guglielmi said the case appeared to be a dispute over drug territory.

McKoy had completed high school with "high honors" and he was described as a "very nice, respectable young man that had a smile that would make you smile" in an obituary on a funeral home website. He was set to begin an apprenticeship at a training center for carpenters, it said.

According to the obituary, he "lived by the code of 'death before dishonor,'" and court records show that in March prosecutors had dropped armed robbery charges against him.

Morrison's record includes several drug arrests. He was found not guilty of attempted distribution of drugs on Jan. 18. In 2009, prosecutors dropped attempted murder, robbery and firearms charges against him, and in 2007 drug charges were dropped.

He has at least one conviction — in 2006, he received eight years in prison with all but about three months suspended.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com


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