Lawyers for convicted BGF killer say prosecutors withheld key witness testimony

David Hunter was sentenced Friday to two life terms plus 40 years for a 2011 murder.
David Hunter was sentenced Friday to two life terms plus 40 years for a 2011 murder. (courtesy: Baltimore Police / Baltimore Sun)

Lawyers for a man convicted of murder as part of a long-running Black Guerrilla Family conspiracy case say prosecutors didn't disclose that they had an informant who had fingered another man for the killing.

David Hunter was convicted of murder in the 2011 death of Henry Mills and sentenced in September to life in prison.


But after his sentencing, Hunter's lawyers say in court papers filed Wednesday, they said that an informant had told police that another member of the gang had killed Mills. They say prosecutors suppressed evidence favorable to their client and that he should get a new trial.

"The state failed to provide Mr. Hunter evidence of a third-party confession, substantiated by the state's own confidential informant," lawyers Michael E. Lawlor and Nicholas G. Madiou wrote.


Thiru Vignarajah, a prosecutor who handled the case, disputed the allegations in a letter to the court. He wrote that he would contact the judge after Thanksgiving to schedule a hearing.

Hunter was charged in Mills' death in July 2011. But the murder investigation ultimately ballooned into a major gang case that led in late 2013 to the indictment of 48 alleged members of the Black Guerrilla Family on charges that they ran a violent drug dealing operation in Baltimore's Barclay neighborhood.

In lengthy indictments, prosecutors alleged that Mills killed BGF member Naim King in 2007, and continued to be a thorn in the gang's side until Hunter finally gunned him down four years later.

But in a videotaped interview with police in 2013, informant James Cornish offered what Hunter's lawyers say in the new court filing is an alternate version of the story.

As Cornish went through photographs of suspected BGF members, Hunter's lawyers write, Cornish described how a BGF member who was dating King's sister had been the one to exact revenge.

The other gang member has not been charged in the killing. Cornish later pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges and is awaiting sentencing.

The gang member "retaliated for [King's] death," Cornish said. "That's what [Hunter] is locked up for."

Cornish told police that Hunter was upset that the other gang member had not sent money to his commissary account to compensate him for sitting in jail, the lawyers say.

The other gang member "never sends Dave anything, and that's why Dave wants to kill him," Cornish told police.

Joshua Insley, a lawyer for a man accused in another killing, received the tape of Cornish's interview as part of the evidence against his client. During his client's trial, Insley cross-examined Cornish on the claims he made about Hunter.

"You told the police that David Hunter was sitting in jail on a murder he didn't commit; is that correct?" Insley asked.

"Yes," Cornish said, according to a transcript of the exchange Hunter's lawyers included in their filing.


"And that [the other gang member] was the person who really did it; is that correct?"


An attorney for the gang member accused by Cornish did not respond Wednesday to a request for comment.

The conviction of Hunter was one of the few bright spots in the sprawling case, which was designed to show how city prosecutors could effectively tackle gangs.

As the cases have played out in court, few of those accused received lengthy prison sentences. And Gerald Johnson, the gang's alleged leader, was found not guilty on all the charges he faced.


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