Murder case dropped after alibi is verified

The Baltimore Sun

For the second time in a week, Anne Arundel County prosecutors have thrown out a murder case, this time because one of two men accused in a fatal Annapolis shooting could not have been at the scene.

Prosecutors dismissed first-degree-murder charges yesterday against Keith Brown, 27, and Ryan B. Wheeler, 26, both of Annapolis after Wheeler's attorney, F. Spencer Gordon, produced several witnesses who corroborated his client's alibi, that he was drinking with friends in downtown Annapolis bars on Oct. 12, 2006, the night that Jamore Van Johnson, 39, was killed.

Johnson, an Annapolis resident, was found fatally shot at the Harbor House apartment complex in Annapolis. A month later, police arrested Brown and Wheeler, who have been held at the county's Jennifer Road Detention Center.

Authorities charged the two men after learning that the victim had recently argued with Brown. Authorities then linked Wheeler to the crime through cell phone records that showed he had spoken to Brown on the night of the shooting.

Gordon said Wheeler had maintained that he was hanging out at bars with friends that night when he saw an acquaintance of a friend. Wheeler called the friend in New York on his cell phone so that the three could talk. That cell phone conversation was the crucial evidence that led to the dismissal of the charges.

On Sept. 21, prosecutors dropped murder charges against a Brooklyn Park teenager accused in a November killing after a key witness who was scheduled to testify in the case was shot to death.

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