Sun coverage: Witness intimidation

Archived coverage from The Sun of the problem of witness intimidation and efforts by political leaders and criminal justice officials to combat it.

January 6, 2009

'Stop Snitching' figure charged with gun offense

A ninth person connected to the infamous Stop Snitching videos, which threaten violence against police informants, has been charged in Baltimore federal court as part of a six-year investigation that has led to the arrest of nearly four dozen Marylanders for crimes including racketeering, drug dealing and illegal arms possession.

November 29, 2006

Holiday visit to his old street is deadly

Not long after John P. Dowery Jr. became a witness in a Baltimore murder case, he became a victim.

September 19, 2006

A life exiled

Edna McAbier cannot go home again.

December 13, 2005

Attack trial to go to jury

A North Baltimore community activist's home was firebombed only after drug dealers decided that shooting her in the head would not intimidate her neighborhood enough, federal prosecutors said yesterday.

July 5, 2005

Seeking a victory over intimidators

The younger brother of a man about to go on trial for murder drove up to a bus stop on The Alameda and had just four words for one of the witnesses, according to court documents.

June 15, 2005

Make court data available electronically, judges order

The state's highest court ordered yesterday that information available on paper at courthouses across the state also be made available electronically, rebuffing prosecutors and victims' rights advocates who testified that such a decision could enable witness intimidation.

May 14, 2005

Rumors followed two officers

For 16 years, Waymon LeFall has watched his blighted West Baltimore neighborhood from a perch at the corner of Edmondson Avenue and Brice Street. And for years, he has heard about "King and Murray."

May 13, 2005

2 city officers charged in drug case denied bail

Two Baltimore police officers will spend at least the weekend in jail after making their first court appearance yesterday on federal charges that they stole illegal drugs from suspects and sold them on the streets.

May 12, 2005

Two officers on city force charged in drug deals

Two Baltimore police officers described as being "in the game" in the infamous Stop Snitching DVD were charged by federal authorities yesterday with robbing criminals, selling confiscated drugs and pocketing the profits.

May 12, 2005

Ehrlich launching media blitz against drugs and violence

With a bling-bedecked NBA star at his side, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. charged yesterday into the home turf of his likely rival in the next gubernatorial race to announce a media campaign that condemns the drugs and violence plaguing Baltimore's streets.

May 12, 2005

David Steele: Anthony saves face; message saves lives

OFFICIALLY, THE gathering in a vacant lot behind Johns Hopkins Hospital yesterday afternoon was the kickoff of a state-run anti-violence project.

May 11, 2005

Police hit streets with their answer to 'Snitch' DVD

First came Stop Snitching, the DVD celebrating drug dealing, diamond-encrusted wristwatches, violence and witness intimidation in Baltimore. Yesterday, city police unveiled their sequel.

May 3, 2005

O'Malley testifies on witness protection

Testifying at a congressional field hearing to address Baltimore's pervasive witness intimidation problem, Mayor Martin O'Malley said yesterday that reforming the criminal justice system would be the best way to help people who cooperate with police feel safe.

April 30, 2005

'Stop Snitchin' shirts have people talking for different reasons in city

In shopping malls around the city, young people are buying T-shirts with statements that would make any parent, police officer or community leader cringe: "Criminal minded." "Let's get blown." "Ready to Die."

April 12, 2005

Man to plead guilty in bid to have girl, 11, killed

A Baltimore man who was acquitted of murder charges in July has agreed to plead guilty in federal court for trying to hire someone to kill an 11-year-old witness who testified at his trial, his lawyer said yesterday.

April 10, 2005

New cards, DVD put message from police in hands of suspects

Baltimore police aren't just looking to arrest criminals anymore, they're trying to get inside their heads.

April 8, 2005

Jessamy decries intimidation bill

The Baltimore state's attorney who has spent two years fighting for a witness intimidation bill said yesterday that she'd "rather have nothing at all" than the heavily amended version of the bill that lawmakers are now considering in Annapolis.

April 7, 2005

Suburbs see some cases of threats against witnesses

The voice mail message arrived at 1:30 p.m. on April 28.

April 7, 2005

General Assembly

Intimidation bill clears House panel

Breaking a long-standing impasse, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s bill to crack down on witness intimidation cleared a key House of Delegates committee yesterday and is expected to be on the House floor for a preliminary review today.

March 30, 2005

General Assembly

Vallario stands in way of witness-protection bill

He shuffles into his seat near the back of the House of Delegates chamber, a quiet, eccentric man, occasionally rising to explain a bill in his gravelly, barely comprehensible voice.

March 11, 2005

Man charged with intimidating witness in neighborhood dispute

Armed with clubs fashioned from broken table legs, the two men burst into a Southwest Baltimore house last month, city prosecutors said, intent on beating the homeowner so badly that he couldn't testify in court.

March 9, 2005

Jessamy organizes push for witness law

Fearing that witness-intimidation legislation may again wither in Annapolis, Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy has asked city community and church leaders to assemble in support of it this morning at the State House.

March 3, 2005

'Stop Snitching' cameraman arrested

A West Baltimore man who acted as cameraman for the notorious Stop Snitching DVD was arrested yesterday at his home, where police found 198 bags of raw heroin, as well as drug-packaging machinery.

February 28, 2005

Hearsay rules complicate bills on intimidation

The efforts of some state lawmakers to curb witness intimidation are being threatened by seemingly technical legal jargon that cuts to the heart of one of the criminal justice system's most sacred principles: a person's right to confront his or her accuser.

February 18, 2005

Dawson family survivors file lawsuit against officials, police

Survivors of the slain Dawson family have filed a $14 million lawsuit accusing elected leaders and law enforcement officials of failing to prevent the firebombing that killed seven family members in 2002.

February 18, 2005

House panel questions supporters, opponents of bill on intimidation

House Judiciary Committee members grilled supporters and opponents of a high-profile witness intimidation bill yesterday on a provision that would let witnesses make statements, in certain circumstances, without appearing in court.

February 10, 2005

U.S. is taking arson case

Federal prosecutors took over the witness-intimidation case yesterday against five men accused of firebombing the home of a North Baltimore community leader last month, a move that could increase the minimum penalties imposed on the defendants if they are convicted.

February 2, 2005

Murder suspect charged with soliciting killing of witnesses

Jailed and awaiting trial on armed robbery and attempted murder charges, a 19-year-old Middle River man is facing new charges that he arranged to have two witnesses in that case killed.

February 1, 2005

Anti-intimidation effort recruits Anthony

Representatives of NBA star Carmelo Anthony are negotiating with federal and state officials who want the Baltimore native to participate in a marketing campaign to combat the growing problem of witness intimidation.

January 31, 2005

Witness bill gets clergy support

The legislative effort to combat witness intimidation in Maryland is drawing support from a potentially powerful group: African-American ministers in some of Baltimore's toughest neighborhoods.

January 26, 2005

Witness-intimidation victims urge the passage of legislation

The woman in the light-green blazer, shaking and holding back tears, told a panel of senators yesterday that witness intimidation is "like a nightmare."

January 21, 2005

Witness' detention shows problem, lawyer says

For more than five months, Kenyatta Costes was locked up at the Baltimore City Jail. Her crime: She's a reluctant witness in a murder case.

January 20, 2005

Proposals focus on witnesses who are intimidated

Angela Sipe witnessed a killing during a card party at an apartment in Forestville. She called 911. When police arrived, she gave them a statement and picked 20-year-old Keith Leon Carroll's picture out of a photo array. Three days later, Carroll returned to the apartment with two friends, and they fatally shot the 27-year-old mother of two boys.

December 29, 2004

DVD's producer calls it a glimpse of reality

At first, the videos provided Rodney Bethea a unique way to promote his clothing line, he says.

December 12, 2004

Another weapon in war on witnesses

Just before 2 a.m. on Jan. 15, four men cloaked in ski masks and dark clothing kick in the front door of an apartment in Hampden.

December 8, 2004

'Snitch' DVD is aimed at suspected ex-drug boss

Basketball star Carmelo Anthony might have provided celebrity appeal in Stop Snitching, a witness-intimidation DVD for sale on the streets of Baltimore.

December 4, 2004

Homemade DVDs about informing give police clues

Baltimore Police said yesterday that their discovery of a cache of homemade DVDs featuring young men smoking marijuana and spewing violent threats, as well as appearances by homegrown NBA star Carmelo Anthony, has provided them with a trove of criminal intelligence.

February 9, 2004

Ehrlich targets witness threats

In an effort to target some of Maryland's most violent criminals, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.'s legislative agenda this year includes a bill that would give prosecutors broader powers to go after anyone who intimidates or harms witnesses, a chronic problem in Baltimore that stymies many of the city's homicide cases.

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