Troy White was portrayed in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday as playing a key role in the Feb. 7 jewelry store robbery and killing of Sgt. Bruce A. Prothero, as the jury heard testimony that he bought both getaway cars and cased the store by pretending to be a customer.
White's lawyer acknowledged yesterday that his client participated in the robbery of J. Brown Jewelers. But he argued that White should be acquitted of the murder charge because he was unarmed and had fled by the time Prothero was shot.
"Nobody is saying that he had a gun; nobody is saying that he shot anyone," said Mark Van Bavel, White's lawyer.
White is the second of four men to be tried in the case.
Prosecutors emphasized that White confessed to participating in the robbery, and that under the state's felony murder law, that makes him as guilty of first-degree murder as the shooter.
"As the defendant told police not long after his arrest, they were all in this together," Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Rains said in a brief opening statement.
Prothero, 35, was shot three times as he chased four men out of the store on Reisterstown Road during a robbery that netted $438,000 worth of watches. The father of five was working part time as a security guard at the store.
White could receive a sentence of life without parole on charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery, first-degree assault and a handgun charge.
Donald Antonio White, 19, who is no relation, was convicted last month of murder, armed robbery, assault and handgun charges by a jury that heard much of the same evidence presented yesterday. He is to be sentenced Sept. 20.
Wesley John Moore, 25, is scheduled to be tried before Judge James T. Smith Jr. on Jan. 22.
The trial for his brother, Richard Antonio Moore, 30, the alleged shooter, has been moved to Harford County Circuit Court at the request of his lawyers. Richard Moore could receive the death penalty.
Troy White declined to testify yesterday, and Van Bavel limited his defense to cross-examining the prosecution's eight witnesses.
Store customers and employees testified that the Moores entered the store first, drew handguns and ordered everyone on the floor. The Whites then entered, using mallets to smash jewelry cases and grab watches, according to testimony.
"It was chaos," William McCafferty, a store manager, told jurors. "There was screaming. There were demands being yelled."
Joseph Osiomwan, a Baltimore car dealer, testified that he sold White the vehicles allegedly used in the robbery - a 1984 Oldsmobile Delta 88 and a 1987 Mercury Grand Marquis - at a car auction Feb. 1.
White was arrested Feb. 8 at a home on North Ellamont Street after police heard an offer to sell some of the stolen watches to a suspected drug dealer whose telephone was being tapped. Police found one of the stolen watches under a cushion on a couch where White had spent the night, according to police testimony.
Detective Philip Marll, the lead investigator on the case, testified that White identified the other three men when he was arrested, showed police where they lived and explained what happened to the cars.
Mark Dubin, a manager at the store, testified that White came into the store about a week before the robbery and asked to see a Rolex watch. White left without making a purchase but returned at least once, Dubin said.
Dubin said he called police when he returned from Prothero's funeral, turned on the television and saw news reports identifying White as a suspect.
The case, being heard before Judge John G. Turnbull II, is expected to go to the jury of eight women and four men today.