Baltimore's top prosecutor to try murder case

After his first city prosecution resulted in a mixed outcome last year, with one defendant acquitted and two others convicted of minor offenses, Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein is set to try a murder case Monday.

William Carr, 50, is charged in the fatal shooting of 55-year-old deliveryman Chong Wan Yim during an armed robbery June 28 at the Erdman Shopping Center in Belair-Edison. Carr has a lengthy criminal record, according to police, and was released in 2010 from a 20-year prison term associated with an earlier armed robbery. He was scheduled to be on probation for that case through 2019.

He is also accused of armed robbery and assault in an unrelated incident that occurred four days earlier at the S&M Market in Northeast Baltimore, court records show, and faces trial on those charges April 11. Carr has pleaded not guilty in both cases.

Bernstein appeared in court ready for trial Friday, but no courtroom was immediately available. The case has since been reset for Monday morning in Baltimore Circuit Court before Judge Paul Smith.

In a lengthy December interview, Bernstein hinted at plans to try a significant case soon, but he declined to discuss details.

"This is an important case to me, and we can talk about why that is later," he said at the time. "I don't want to draw unwanted attention to it before the trial comes up."

The Baltimore Sun identified the case as Carr's, but Bernstein and his staff repeatedly declined to confirm the state's attorney's involvement. Bernstein again declined to comment Friday, and had not yet entered his appearance in the case as of that afternoon, according to court records. Thus far, the sole prosecutor is listed as Assistant State's Attorney Josh Felsen, who will be trying the case with his boss.

When Bernstein ran for office in 2010, he campaigned on a promise to target violent repeat offenders like John Anthony Wagner, who was convicted of murder last year in the high-profile stabbing death of Johns Hopkins researcher Stephen Pitcairn. Felsen prosecuted that case, as well.

Carr's "lengthy criminal record," as described in a 2011 Baltimore police statement, seems to suggest he fits the career criminal profile, though online court records show only the two recent cases and a 1985 case that contains no details.

"I hope you will keep in mind that a person is innocent until proven guilty and we have a centuries-old tradition in this country that places the responsibility for determining guilt in the hands of 12 citizens," Carr's public defender, Maureen Rowland, said in an earlier email to The Sun, urging the media not to "try Mr. Carr before the jury has a chance to."

She said she will not try Carr's case any differently because of Bernstein's involvement.

Bernstein, who took office in January 2011, also promised during his campaign that he would try cases himself because, he said, he enjoys it and because it's a good reminder of what his assistants go through daily.

He took his first crack at it a year ago, trying three city police officers who were accused of kidnapping, false imprisonment, assault and misconduct in office for allegedly stranding two West Baltimore teens — one of them shoeless — at separate spots in Maryland, one in East Baltimore and the other in Howard County. Two of the officers were convicted only of misconduct by a city jury, and the other was acquitted of the charges in a judge trial.

His second case began and ended with a plea deal Monday when defendant Kimberly S. Carter, 30, pleaded guilty to embezzling $8,318 from the Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center Addiction Treatment Services center while an employee there.

She was sentenced to an 18-month prison term — which was suspended — and ordered to pay the full amount in restitution to the facility. If she complies with all requirements, the conviction could eventually be expunged from her record.

Bernstein said after the case that there was no real significance to it for him, but he wanted to help out, and the prosecutor who handled it previously had left the office, leaving no one in charge of the case.

Of his involvement in Carr's case, he said simply to "stay tuned."

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