Homicide defendants' fates lie in jury's hands


Three men who were killed execution-style last summer in Southeast Baltimore were "hard-working, solid citizens" and not intended murder targets, a prosecutor argued yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court.

The two defendants on trial for first-degree murder yesterday -- William Faulkner and Richard James -- were trying to settle a score with one of the victim's brothers, said Assistant State's Attorney Lisa Goldberg in her closing argument.

Defense lawyers, who did not call any witnesses in the four-day case, argued that Faulkner and James were not involved in the killings.

A jury began deliberations last night to decide whether the defendants, both 23, shot Thomas Barnes Jr., Frederick Jenkins and ElJermaine Street in the back of their heads July 7. The victims were all 28, lifelong friends, and had graduated from Dundalk High School in 1992.

According to Goldberg, the intended target was Derek Jenkins, 24, brother of Frederick Jenkins. The elder Jenkins brother had been recently married and had just returned from a tour of duty in Kuwait, where he was a computer specialist in Operation Enduring Freedom.

The younger Jenkins -- who had a two-year dispute with the defendants -- was with the victims when they were shot, but he escaped unharmed.

Bad feelings had been sparked the day of the shooting between Derek Jenkins and the defendants at a bar, Goldberg said. Faulkner and one of Derek Jenkins' friends exchanged dirty looks, she said.

Hours later, the victims and Derek Jenkins were sitting on the steps of the apartment complex in the 1300 block of Bonsal St., near O'Donnell Heights. Two men approached, wearing hooded sweatshirts pulled over their heads.

Without saying a word, one of the men pulled out a revolver and fired three shots at the victims from 24 feet away, Goldberg said.

Derek Jenkins testified earlier this week that Faulkner and James were the assailants.

"Derek Jenkins saw what happened, and he saw who did it," Goldberg told the jury.

Defense lawyer Murray M. Blum, who is defending James, said his client is "as innocent as the day he was born."

Public defender Thomas Kane, who is defending Faulkner, told the jury the premise of the state's case is flawed, and the "bad blood" between the men was no motivation for murder. He also told them not to be swayed by the tragedy of the loss of three hard-working young men.

Frederick Jenkins, who was married last year, had been scheduled to fly to Germany to see his wife.

Street, the father of a 3-year-old daughter, was a forklift operator in Dundalk and was engaged to be married last year.

Barnes, a Social Security Administration clerk, briefly served in the National Guard and had recently returned home after his parents became ill.

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