Baltimore Spectator blogger pleads not guilty; awaits May trial

Frank James MacArthur, the blogger known as the Baltimore Spectator, could go on trial in May after pleading not guilty Monday to gun and resisting-arrest charges that have kept him in jail for months.

MacArthur is accused in connection with a December standoff as Baltimore police tried to arrest him on a probation violation charge. During the standoff, MacArthur protested his arrest on an online radio station and live-streamed his telephone discussions with a police negotiator over the Internet.

Police said they found a sawed-off shotgun in his Waverly home after he surrendered, and MacArthur has been held in jail without bail since Dec.1. His trial has been scheduled for May 8.

On Monday, MacArthur asked the judge if he could serve as his own co-counsel in his trial, but the request was denied. While he has the right to represent himself in the case, the judge told him he cannot help his lawyer in an official capacity.

His attorney, Mark Van Bavel, had a scheduling conflict and was not present in court when MacArthur appeared.

"We're very happy together," Van Bavel said afterward when asked why MacArthur sought to represent himself in some fashion. "I'm sure there's a misunderstanding in there."

MacArthur also asked to be released on bail. The judge told him it was not possible to grant the request at an arraignment.

Both district and circuit judges have already denied MacArthur bail.

Van Bavel said defendants can be allowed another bail hearing if case circumstances have changed. In MacArthur's case, his probation case was closed after his arrest, and Van Bavel said he plans to ask for one more bail review because of it.

Several of MacArthur's friends attended the hearing Monday and spilled out into the hallway afterward, voicing their opinion that the court system has not been fair in denying MacArthur bail. State Del. Jill P. Carter, his former lawyer and a Baltimore Democrat, has said the denial was unusual given MacArthur's history and the type of charges against him.

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