An attorney representing Kenneth D. Perry, accused of committing a double murder in 1998, tried Friday to methodically take apart a homicide detective's investigation of the case during the defendant's second trial in Baltimore Circuit Court.
Attorney Janice Bledsoe zeroed in repeatedly during cross-examination on what she termed failures or inconsistencies in the investigation of the murders of Perry's former girlfriend, LaShawn Jordan, and her friend Kelly Bunn in a Reservoir Hill apartment.
Before the day's session got under way, Judge Stuart R. Berger warned the 45-year-old defendant — who had been disruptive during earlier testimony and who was removed Thursday from court after complaining of chest pain — not to repeat his "obstreperous behavior."
Perry was convicted in the killings in 2001 and sentenced to life without parole, but a judge ordered the case retried after it became clear that a prosecutor had withheld evidence from the defense. The new trial began Monday and might have concluded Friday had it not been for the lengthy cross-examinations of the state's last witnesses.
In questioning Roscoe Lewis, the homicide detective, Bledsoe suggested repeatedly that he had failed to record crucial interviews, mislaid evidence and neglected to follow up on what might have been important leads. He did not, he acknowledged, speak to a paramedic who had learned from Jordan's 4-year-old daughter that the shooter had been "Frankie," a nickname by which Perry was known. In fact, Lewis said, he did not learn of it until much later and, after Perry was arrested, did not ask the defendant whether he had such a nickname.
Bledsoe asked why Lewis and the state's attorney's office had held off on requesting an arrest warrant for Perry until August 2000 if Jordan's daughter had identified him as the culprit shortly after the crime two years earlier.
"We wanted to find someone else as a witness," Lewis said, adding that he and the prosecutor's office "didn't want to put a 4-year-old girl" through the rigors of a trial in which she would have been the state's main witness. "She was already traumatized," the detective said.
Lewis acknowledged that he had not looked into whether Bunn's former boyfriend, Eric McGee, had a criminal record, despite her family's concerns about him and whether he might have been involved in her murder. Lewis also acknowledged that he had not established the truth of McGee's alibi but said he had interviewed him and was satisfied that he had played no role in the killings.
"Were you too pressured by other responsibilities to do a thorough job?" Bledsoe asked.
"No," Lewis replied.
When prosecutor Lisa Phelps resumed her examination of the witness, she established that Perry had been a "person of interest" in the case all along, that there was nothing that pointed to any other suspects, and that it is common in complex homicide investigations to record some interviews and not others.