Attempted murder trial, mishandled, attorney says


An attorney representing a man seeking a new trial in a 1988 attempted murder case argued that the defendant's original lawyer mishandled the first trial.

"There were certain issues that could have been raised that were not raised," said Charles Williams, a Baltimore attorney representing Gardnel Carter, a 30-year-old who is serving a 25-year prison sentence for second-degree attempted murder and other charges related to the attack of a Havre de Grace man in June 1987.

Carter, of Baltimore, appealed to the state Court of Special Appeals in November 1989, and the court upheld his conviction.

Mr. Williams presented his case Tuesday before Harford Circuit Judge Maurice Baldwin Jr., who has not issued a ruling.

Assistant State's Attorney William Christoforo rebutted Mr. Williams' arguments, asserting that Carter had "active participation" in the preparations for his trial.

"The long and short of it," the prosecutor said, is that "I don't see that as an issue."

He added that Carter never questioned the competency of his first attorney in previous court filings submitted since his conviction.

At Tuesday's hearing, Carter testified that he met only twice with his first attorney, the late Stephen Tarrant, in the 16 months between his arrest and trial. He also met with a public defender at a preliminary hearing.

The defendant said that he asked Mr. Tarrant, also a public defender, to request a change of venue that would move his case to another county, but the defense attorney never filed the request.

But Mr. Christoforo noted that Carter did not make the request until the second day of his trial in Harford Circuit Court.

Carter also stated that an identification line-up where the victim TC pointed to him as his attacker was unfair because none of the men in the line-up looked like him.

The line-up was held in the courtroom before the victim testified.

But Mr. Christoforo said Carter "engineered" the line-up, choosing where to sit and having two of his cousins serve on the panel.

Carter was convicted of second-degree attempted murder, robbery, robbery with a deadly weapon, assault and battery and theft during a jury trial before Circuit Judge Cypert Whitfill.

The defendant was accused of striking William K. Moses of Havre de Grace in the head with a baseball bat outside the Veterans of Foreign Wars post in Perryman on June 13, 1987, circuit court records show.

The victim was taken to an Essex playground, where he was left for dead, Mr. Christoforo said.

"All [the victim's] money was gone," the prosecutor said. "His wallet was gone [along with] his watch and his shoes. . . . It was a horrible crime."

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