Baltimore County

Medical examiner, tech experts testify in trial of teen charged in Baltimore County officer Amy Caprio's death

The wounds that resulted in the death of Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio were the result of blunt force trauma, testified Dr. Melissa Brassell, an assistant medical examiner in the state’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Prosecutors showed the jury in the murder trial of one of the teenagers charged in her death more than two dozen photos of Caprio’s injuries taken during her autopsy. Brassell testified that the injuries, including broken ribs and a macerated liver, were consistent with a “crushing” injury caused by blunt force trauma.


Caprio was struck by a black Jeep Wrangler on Linwen Way in Perry Hall on May 21, police said. A nearly four-year veteran of the department, she died at a hospital shortly after being hit.

A dozen witnesses testified Thursday in Baltimore County Circuit Court in Towson, the third day in the trial of Dawnta Harris. Police identified Harris, now 17, as the driver of the Jeep Wrangler.


Prosecutors called multiple detectives and other staff members who investigated the case, including the people who analyzed latent fingerprints, GPS data and cell tower data.

In cross examination, Harris’ defense attorney J. Wyndal Gordon asked Brassell if Caprio’s injuries could have been nonfatal with the right medical intervention. He pressed her on whether CPR performed on Caprio could have exacerbated her rib fractures, but Brassell said Caprio’s injuries, which included rib fractures on her sides and back as well as heavy hemorrhaging, were not consistent with that.

Brassell testified that Caprio’s torso injuries were consistent with being run over by a car. Gordon asked Brassell if the injuries indicated just “one run across the chest,” and she answered yes.

Det. Michael Forsyth, who works in the intelligence section of the Baltimore County Police Department, was called to testify about the location of the GPS tracking bracelet that suspect Darrell Ward was wearing on May 21. He walked the jury through minute-by-minute location data points, tracing Ward from Baltimore City to houses in the Perry Hall area to the street where Caprio was killed, then back to Baltimore City.

Gordon asked Forsyth one question: “Is there anything … that ties my client, Dawnta Harris, into anything Darrell Ward was doing on that day?” Forsyth answered “No.”

FBI special agent Matthew Wilde presented the jury with maps of cell tower data showing which towers the suspects’ phones used — data that tracked with the suspects’ alleged path to Perry Hall and back. Wilde testified that he could point to the “general area” of the phone. But Gordon questioned his precision, saying because Wilde did not do tests measuring the range of each cell tower, his data did not prove anything.

“You’ve placed a lot of designs on this map right here, but you haven’t tested any of them,” Gordon said.

But Wilde said repeatedly that his expertise made such testing unnecessary.


County police latent print examiner Denise Wallace testified she found prints of four suspects on items from places including a Linwen Way home that was broke into and the black Jeep.

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Wallace identified Dawnta Harris’ latent fingerprint on the outside handle of the drivers’ side door — but the defense highlighted her testimony that two other individuals’ prints were found on the drivers’ side door, including one person who is not one of the four suspects in the case.

The state on Thursday also called taxi driver Ejaz Ahmed, who said he picked up three teens from the corner of Belair and Ebenezer roads and drove them to Frederick Douglass High School.

Ahmed testified that one of his passengers threw what he believed was a gun magazine out of the window as Ahmed was driving on Interstate 83.

On May 21, Harris had been waiting outside in the Jeep as three other teens burglarized a home on Linwen Way, according to police. Caprio had responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle at the home.

Harris is the first of the four teenagers who have been charged with felony murder in Caprio’s death. The other three are awaiting trial.


The trial is expected to continue Friday.

Baltimore Sun reporters Jessica Anderson and Colin Campbell contributed to this article.