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Baltimore man acquitted in two cold-case rapes charged with murder

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A Baltimore man acquitted last year in two cold-case rapes - in which police said he was linked to the attacks through DNA - has been charged with murder after shooting in East Baltimore. 

Herbert Mayes, 26, was charged by city homicide detectives in the March 30 killing of 59-year-old Chauncey Hardy in the 900 block of Valley St. 

Mayes had been included in a database compiled by The Baltimore Sun in 2010 of several suspects charged with rapes through DNA. The report showed that of the 85 sexual assault cases involving DNA that resulted in criminal charges over a three-year period in Baltimore, nearly 40 percent had been dropped.

About 26 percent resulted in conviction, and the rest were pending, according to an analysis of court records, along with a sampling of police investigative files obtained through the Maryland Public Information Act.

The story spotlighted an offender named Jaydee McNeil who had been charged several times with sex offenses, convicted only once and spared prison time. The seventh time, police had DNA evidence, but the victim did not want to testify and the charges were dropped.

The story said: "Sex crimes are notoriously difficult to prosecute, even with DNA evidence, and problems can be heightened in years-old, 'cold' cases. Many victims who initially indicate that they will testify change their minds as court dates near. Multiple postponements and a choked court docket mean that few cases go to trial, and plea deals bring relatively little prison time. Juries, meanwhile, are reluctant to believe the testimony of accusers who have criminal records."

Mayes' charges - in a rape from July 27, 2000 and another from August 12, 2000 - were among the pending cases at the time the article was published, but court records show that prosecutors dropped the most serious charges and he was found not guilty at trial on lesser counts. In both cases, he had been accused of forcing a woman into an alley and raping her - once placing the victim in a chokehold, another time at knifepoint.

Mayes previously had rape charges dropped in 2002, and in 2006 he was convicted of armed robbery, receiving a 10 year sentence with half the term suspended. 

On March 30 of this year, witnesses say Mayes, known as "Mak," and two other males were seen arguing with Hardy. Mayes pulled out a handgun from his waistband and shot Hardy, who fell to his stomach and was shot several more times, police wrote in charging documents. 

Mayes, of the 900 block of E. Lombard St. ran southeast toward Ashland Court, disappearing from view, police said. Witnesses picked Mayes out of a lineup "without hesitation" and police wrote in court papers that city surveillance cameras corroborated their statements. 

Mayes was charged April 3 and was being held without bond. 

Also see:

-- Even with DNA, cases don't bring convictions

 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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