Jury acquits man of attempted murder

The Baltimore Sun

A Baltimore jury yesterday acquitted a convicted carjacker of the attempted murder of an off-duty city police officer.

The case turned on the reliability of the victim's identification of his alleged assailant in a photo array. It was the only evidence that prosecutors - who offered no gun, DNA evidence or other witnesses to the crime - presented during trial.

Officer Momodu Gondo said he sensed he was about to be carjacked when he locked eyes with one of the two men outside his father's home on The Alameda.

According to city prosecutors, that brief stare-down was enough for Gondo, then 23, to identify the man who shot him twice shortly after midnight Dec. 5, 2006. Gondo returned fire 13 times.

Jurors returned the not-guilty verdict last night in the attempted first-degree murder case against Collin Hawkins, 26, who is also a convicted drug dealer.

Hawkins' defense attorney, Jill Trivas, argued that Gondo identified "the wrong man."

"All we have is what Officer Gondo claims to have seen, and that's not enough" to convict, Trivas told the jury.

But prosecutors argued that Gondo's identification of Hawkins was solid. Assistant State's Attorney Paul O'Connor said that Gondo was first shown a photo array that did not include a picture of Hawkins and that Gondo said his assailant was missing from the lineup. Two days later, Baltimore detectives showed Gondo another photo array, in which he identified Hawkins, of the 6000 block of Moravia Park Drive. When shown a photo array that included an alleged accomplice, Gondo said he could not make an identification.

O'Connor said that if Gondo had been interested in making false accusations, he could have named someone from the first array and could have identified someone as the accomplice.

This week, Hawkins was sentenced to 30 years in prison on federal carjacking and gun charges, stemming from a November 2006 carjacking a few blocks from where Gondo was shot in the 5700 block of The Alameda. Hawkins was arrested Dec. 9, 2006, after a struggle with Baltimore City police officers in the 5600 block of The Alameda, and was found to be in possession of a 9 mm pistol, according to federal prosecutors.

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