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Major Baltimore-area cases to keep an eye on now that criminal trials have resumed

When the pandemic hit, it paused not only the daily lives of Baltimore residents, but also the majority of criminal cases in Maryland.

The court system, which recently resumed jury trials, is now taking on a backlog of cases, including that of a Baltimore police sergeant accused of assault and repeated misconduct, an alleged drug conspiracy involving a prominent defense attorney, and a husband accused of murdering his wife and blaming a panhandler.

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Here are the top cases to keep an eye on.

Two men accused of shooting police sergeant face charges over string of killings connected to carjackings

Karon Foster and Rashaud Nesmith were arrested in 2019 for the shooting of Baltimore Police Sgt. Isaac Carrington, who was shot five times in his driveway while off duty.

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Foster pleaded guilty Monday to multiple charges in federal court over a string of armed robberies and carjackings, as well as three killings in the summer of 2019.

Nesmith has not had a trial or plea hearing scheduled.

Federal authorities have charged two other Baltimore men in connection with the murders and carjackings.

Two to stand trial for murder in 2020 death of MTA driver

Marcus Parks was going about his usual route as an MTA bus driver in Baltimore in October when police say a man and a woman tried to board the bus without paying.

Police said the couple, Cameron Silcott and Nichelle Greene, stole Parks’ backpack before running away. Parks chased them. Silcott then shot Parks multiple times, according to police.

The pair are scheduled to stand trial Monday for murder and armed robbery.

Couple charged with abuse, murder in death of 4-year-old

Alicia Lawson and her wife, Shatika Lawson, are charged with second-degree murder, giving false statements to officers and multiple counts of child abuse over the death of Alicia’s biological son Malachi. The 4-year-old was found dead in a dumpster with burns on his skin in 2019.

Police allege that the child suffered “serious” burns when the women gave him a bath after he had soiled himself. The women treated his burns themselves for nine days out of fear they would lose custody of Malachi, according to police.

On Aug. 1, Alicia discovered her son in bed unresponsive and believed he was dead, according to police. Police allege Alicia then disposed of her son’s body in a dumpster.

The Lawsons then reported the child missing. Shatika Lawson’s defense attorney alleges her client did not know the boy was dead until homicide detectives told her.

The pair have a jury trial scheduled for Aug. 2.

Lawrence Banks, convicted in son’s death, accused of dismembering daughter

When Baltimore Police found the dismembered body of Dominique Foster in a shopping cart near a dumpster in 2019, her father, Lawrence Banks, was charged with her murder.

Banks had been charged with violence against his family members before.

When Foster was 7 months old, her father threw her through a glass door, according to documents from that court case. While Banks was awaiting trial for the assault, the body of his wife was found in a closet. It was too decomposed for a cause of death to be determined, according to police.

Banks was sentenced to 15 years for the assault on his daughter.

Banks then spent 10 years in prison for killing his teenage son, as well as a friend, in 1991. Prosecutors at the time said Banks was angry because his son and Foster accused him of abuse. He was released in 2002 after having received “good time credits.”

Banks now faces charges of first-degree murder and the unlawful disposal of a body in Foster’s death. While a trial date has not yet been set, Banks is set to appear in court Aug. 9.

Father of unborn son to stand trial for murder of pregnant woman, toddler

Devon Sample is scheduled to stand trial Sept. 27 on murder charges in the deaths of Shiand Miller, who police say was pregnant with his unborn son, and her 3-year-old daughter, Shaniya.

Miller and her daughter were found shot to death inside Miller’s car on the side of the road in Southwest Baltimore in June 2020.

Police have charged Sample with three counts of first-degree murder. Sample has said he is innocent.

Former police chief accused of committing arson to target local officials

Ex-Laurel Police Chief David Crawford is accused of committing arson multiple times from 2011 through 2020 to intimidate and retaliate against people he was in disagreements with, including local law enforcement officials, according to police.

Crawford is charged in Howard, Frederick, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in connection with 12 fires involving houses, cars and garages throughout the area. He will stand trial in each county.

No one was injured, but police said people were inside the homes in six of the fires. Crawford is being charged with attempted murder in Howard and Prince George’s counties.

Crawford’s first trial is Sept. 28 in Prince George’s, followed by an Oct. 12 trial in Frederick, a Dec. 6 trial in Howard and a Jan. 10 trial in Montgomery County.

Baltimore boxer Gervonta Davis charged in hit-and-run that injured 3

Baltimore boxer Gervonta Davis, who holds three world champion titles, is accused of injuring at least three people in a downtown car crash in 2020 before leaving the scene.

Online court records show Davis is charged with 14 traffic violations, including running a red light, driving with a suspended license, failure to stay at the scene and failure to report the crash to police.

Initial police reports said the driver of a Lamborghini, who police believe to be Davis, ran a red light on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard before hitting a Toyota. The Toyota was “destroyed,” with all four occupants being transported to a hospital, at least three of who were injured, according to police. The two people inside the Lamborghini fled on foot.

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Davis’ jury trial is set for Oct. 4.

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Police sergeant faces 32 counts of misconduct, assault, false imprisonment

After a video of Baltimore Police Sgt. Ethan Newberg arresting a man for criticizing his policing tactics was published in 2019, an investigation of the sergeant’s past brought to light what prosecutors described as a pattern and practice of harassment and intimidation.

Newberg, who had spent more than two decades with the department, is accused of harassing, detaining and assaulting citizens in at least nine separate incidents from July 2018 to May 2019, according to a grand jury indictment. He faces 32 counts, including misconduct in office, assault, and false imprisonment.

Newberg’s jury trial begins Oct. 25.

Man faces charges for wife’s killing, which he blamed on a panhandler

When Jacquelyn Smith’s stepdaughter and husband told police she had been stabbed to death by a panhandler at a Baltimore intersection in 2018, the story stoked fears about safety and the homeless community in the city. Police said the story was a lie.

Smith’s husband, Keith Tyrone Smith, is charged with her murder, while stepdaughter Valeria Smith pleaded guilty as an accessory in 2019.

Police said Keith Smith talked to a relative about killing his wife after she began talking about a divorce.

While a trial date has not been set, Keith Smith will appear in court Dec. 1, three years to the day after his wife was killed.

Prominent Baltimore defense attorney charged in alleged drug conspiracy

Ken Ravenell, a well-known Baltimore defense attorney, was charged with racketeering in 2019 for allegedly being in cahoots with Richard Byrd, one of his clients and a Jamaican marijuana kingpin.

Federal prosecutors accuse Ravenell of aiding Byrd and his drug crew with covering up their crimes from 2009 to 2014.

Ravenell’s attorney, Joshua Treem, is facing federal charges of his own over a 2017 prison meeting federal prosecutors secretly recorded in which Treem met with Byrd to discuss Ravenell. Prosecutors allege Treem obtained false statements about Ravenell to hide Ravenell’s conduct. Attorneys for Treem and Ravenell argue federal prosecutors had no right to record the conversation, which they claim was privileged.

Ravenell’s trial is scheduled to begin Dec. 6 in U.S. District Court in Baltimore.

All dates are tentative. Cases could be postponed; defendants could change their pleas; prosecutors could drop charges.

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