www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-county/towson/ph-tt-trial-day-two-20120829,0,1718721.story

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Investigators unfurl case against men charged in Towson fatal shooting

Surveillance footage shows victim being followed through mall

By Jon Meoli jmeoli@tribune.com

9:03 AM EDT, August 30, 2012

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Baltimore County investigators on Wednesday laid out the investigation that led them to charge four men in the shooting death of 19-year-old Rodney Pridget last December outside the Towson Town Center mall.

In the second day of testimony in Baltimore County Circuit Court, the jury was shown video evidence that police say shows Frank Theodore Williams, 32, of Lansdowne, and William Ward III, 45, of Baltimore — two of the four men charged with first-degree murder — arriving and following Pridget, 19, and his girlfriend, Nautica Reynolds, 17, through the mall for nearly 20 minutes before Tyrone Chester Brown, 20, of Baltimore, allegedly followed the couple outside and shot Pridget.

The day began with a forensic technician laying out the scene, in which they found Pridget dead near the wall outside Nordstrom with three gunshot wounds to the back and one to the head, chest, right flank, right arm and left arm.

County homicide detective Jim Lambert took the jury through the investigation, beginning moments after the shooting when officers responded to the mall and apprehended Williams, who was seen running through the parking garage.

Lambert said he interviewed Williams that night at the police station.

Williams told Lambert in the interview, which was shown to the jury, that he received a call from Jermel Brandon, 35, of Baltimore, asking Williams to come pick him and a woman he was with, Crystal Harris, up at the mall. Brandon has also been charged with first-degree murder in the case. Harris has not been charged.

During the interview, Williams initially told the detective he came alone to the mall that night, but police showed him a photo taken from the mall’s surveillance video that evening that showed him with Brandon and Ward.

Over the course of three interviews with police and the state’s attorney’s office in the ensuring weeks, Williams changed his story to indicate that Ward was in the car with himself, Brown and a third man, who police identified as Lionel Goode. Police and the surveillance video indicate that Goode, who investigators said is blind, never left the car and has not been charged.

The surveillance video showed that a couple identified as Brandon and Harris first encountered Pridget and his girlfriend in Downtown Locker Room on the bottom floor of the mall at 5:18 p.m. on Dec. 19, and that men identified as Williams, Ward and Brown arrived at 5:56 p.m.

The video shows that two men, who police said were Williams and Ward, entered the mall at Macy’s shortly after they arrived, while two others, identified by police as Brown and Goode, stayed in the car. The video shows the man identified as Brandon waiting for them for several minutes. When they arrived, they began following Pridget and his girlfriend, who made their way from the Nordstrom Rack on the first floor to the fourth floor of Nordstrom

On the video, the man identified as Williams eventually split off with the group and went to the parking lot, and while other two, Ward and Brandon, continued to tail the couple.

When Pridget and his girlfriend left the mall through a set of second-floor doors in Nordstrom that lead out to the bottom level of the parking lot behind the mall, the man identified as Brown, who entered the mall at 6:08 p.m., briefly joined up with Ward and Brandon before following the couple out of the mall.

The area next to Nordstrom where Pridget was killed is not covered by surveillance videos, but at 6:17 p.m. — the time of the shooting — the man identified as Brown disappears around the corner, and returns to the frame seconds later.

Police in the Nordstrom’s garage apprehended Williams shortly after the shooting. Investigators said his capture and the subsequent interview made cracking the case much easier, as did the extensive surveillance cameras at the mall.

Three of the men were arrested and charged on Feb. 1, with the fourth arrested the next day.

On Thursday, prosecutors are expected to show footage of the accused using cell phones to communicate throughout the evening, both before and after the shooting. The trial will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.