A man serving a 15-year prison sentence in the slaying of a Baltimore man testified yesterday that a co-defendant shot the victim twice in the head during an argument over drugs outside the Woodstock post office in October 1992.
Linwood Taylor Jr., who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for his role in the slaying, testified in the Howard Circuit Court trial of Troy Lynn Brooks, a longtime friend of the victim who is charged with first-degree murder.
William H. Murphy Jr., a Baltimore attorney for Mr. Brooks, told the jury in his opening statement that Taylor was "bought" by prosecutors to convict his client, who could be sentenced to life in prison without parole if found guilty in the Oct. 10, 1992, slaying.
"The evidence will show that he was seduced," Mr. Murphy told the jury of eight men and four women. "The evidence will show that he was induced.
"The evidence will show that he was literally bought by the state of Maryland as a witness," the defense attorney said.
Mr. Murphy, who is to cross-examine Taylor today, contended that prosecutors are relying on the co-defendant's testimony to win a conviction because they have a weak case against his client.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha acknowledged that prosecutors entered into a plea agreement with Taylor in July in exchange for his testimony but that Taylor received no special treatment as a result of the agreement.
Mr. Murtha told the jury in his opening statement that Mr. Brooks shot 27-year-old Kevin Lee Holland of Baltimore twice in the head because the victim had smoked crack cocaine that Mr. Brooks intended to sell.
"[Mr. Brooks] was enraged," the prosecutor said. "He was after restitution and retribution."
Mr. Brooks, of the 7900 block of Brookford Circle in Rockdale in Baltimore County, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, assault, battery and weapons counts.
Mr. Holland, who had been a friend of Mr. Brooks since they were 13 years old, was shot with a Hungarian-made semiautomatic weapon. The gun, which had been washed and dismantled, was recovered by police in the home of another friend of Mr. Brooks, according to court records.
Mr. Murtha said an FBI ballistics expert will testify that bullets fired from the gun during tests matched the patterns of one of the bullets taken from Mr. Holland's body.
Taylor testified yesterday that Mr. Brooks called him the evening of Oct. 9 and asked him if he wanted to go on a ride with him. Taylor agreed, he said, and they went to an apartment in Baltimore County where they met Mr. Holland.
Taylor testified that the three men drove to the Woodstock post office, in the 10500 block of Old Frederick Road, where Mr. Brooks started a fight with Mr. Holland.
Mr. Brooks repeatedly struck the man, who tried to get away, Taylor said.
Taylor said he did nothing to stop the fight, explaining that he had met Mr. Holland for the first time that night.
Mr. Brooks grabbed Mr. Holland by the collar of his jacket and forced him to lean forward, Taylor testified. Mr. Brooks then fired a shot, paused and fired a second shot, he said.
After the shooting, the men went to Mr. Brooks' apartment, where a friend washed their clothing, Taylor testified.
The men were arrested about two weeks after the shooting.
"How come you didn't go to the police?" Mr. Murtha asked Taylor.
"I don't know," he responded. "Troy was a friend at the time."