Woman with Harris on night he died was 'terrified' of gunman

The woman who was with Kenneth N. Harris the night he was killed said in court Monday that she was "terrified" when a man in a white Halloween mask walked up to the car they were sitting in and fired a shot at the former Baltimore city councilman, showering them both with glass.

Monica Foreman-Robinson, whose identity was not publicly known until she took the stand at the start of the trial of three men accused of killing Harris on Sept. 20, 2008, said the car shook as the bullet shattered a driver's-side window.

The witness, who said under questioning that she had met the former city official a few months earlier at the bank they both used, said the gunman had been "really excited" and was "screaming and yelling" at Harris, who persisted in returning to his car despite his assailant's commands.

Jurors had heard earlier Monday from a prosecutor, who said that as Harris and his companion tried to flee, he had been shot as he switched on his engine, although he still managed to speed off. The car crashed a short distance away.

Foreman-Robinson, dressed entirely in black, said in a halting voice that she did not get a good look at the three men at the scene. Police later charged Jerome Williams, 17, and Charles McGaney and Gary Collins, both 22, with Harris' killing and the holdup of the New Haven Lounge, a jazz club in Northeast Baltimore.

"I was terrified," she told the jury, describing the moment she heard the shot. "I couldn't believe what was happening. I was screaming and yelling and telling Kenny to drive."

The car began to move, but Harris remained "silent the whole time," she said, and she did not realize that he had been shot until his Toyota Corolla hit a curb and came to rest near a tree.

"He was bleeding, and I couldn't tell where the blood was coming from. As it got worse, he started making a gurgling sound. I was calling his name and screaming for him to come back."

Foreman-Robinson said she and Harris — who was married to another woman — were "good friends," and she was close to tears as she described learning later that night that he had died. She acknowledged under cross-examination that at that time she, too, was married to someone else — "he's in law enforcement," she said — but that they have since divorced.

"Do you have children?" Jerome Bivens, a lawyer representing Williams, asked her in a mocking tone. He then withdrew the question. During his cross-examination, Bivens was reprimanded on three occasions by retired Baltimore Circuit Judge David Ross, who is presiding over the trial, twice for interrupting the witness and once for raising his voice at her.

During opening statements, Bivens and the other two defense attorneys got their first chance to question the state's case. They suggested that pressure to solve the high-profile shooting led police to overlook gaps in evidence.

"It was a grave tragedy when Mr. Harris was killed," Bivens said. "We were all devastated. We were all upset. We are all citizens of Baltimore City, and we are all fed up with senseless violence."

Someone had to pay for the crime, Bivens went on. "Somebody had to be arrested, whether they were guilty or not," he said, "and that's what happened here."

Bivens said police treated the case differently than they would the average killing of "a brother on the corner." He concluded by saying that Harris, as a "voice for youth, would not want you to convict the wrong person."

In his opening, prosecutor Donald Giblin acknowledged that no one could specifically identify the shooters because their faces were covered. But he said the totality of the evidence is strong.

Giblin's second witness was a 20-year-old former Morgan State University student, Jeron Whaley, who testified that blood was "flowing like water" from Harris after he had been shot. "Where his feet were, it was like a puddle," he said.

Whaley told the jury that when he heard the shot and then the sound of squealing tires he "thought it was a drive-by" shooting. He and his friends took cover for a moment, he said, and then ran over to Harris' Toyota after they saw it crash and heard Foreman-Robinson "hysterical, screaming, crying, asking for help."

Whaley said another man, whom he did not know, walked up, lit a match and held it under Harris' nose, apparently to see whether the victim was breathing. The match went out, Whaley said, and the man left without a word.

The trial resumes Tuesday and is expected to last at least a month.

Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton contributed to this article.


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