The attorney for a Baltimore man accused of paying witnesses and manufacturing a document to win his freedom from a life sentence is asking for more time to respond to the allegation.
Tony DeWitt’s attorney said the city’s claim, based on forensic handwriting examiners and recorded jail calls, was filed a week beyond the deadline to file motions in DeWitt’s case against the city for damages.
Robert Joyce, DeWitt’s attorney, asked for extra time to depose the officers whose names appear on the document and to obtain their handwriting samples.
“Plaintiff has not had the chance to examine various handwriting exemplars of the witnesses who may have authored the report or examine the actual files with an expert to determine what, if any, credibility these allegations hold,” Joyce wrote.
Private attorneys hired to represent the city responded that they have a “mountain of evidence” proving the claim.
“This Court should not force Defendants to spend more money defending this case, where the uncontroverted evidence has already established Plaintiff’s shockingly unacceptable level of litigation misconduct based on his own recorded words, and without even reaching the issue of the Questioned Document,” Avi Kamionski wrote.
In its filing, the city alleged it had recorded prison telephone calls in which DeWitt talks about bribing a witness.
DeWitt has always maintained his innocence in the 2002 murder of a 16-year-old girl and shooting of a second man, saying another man was responsible. Two witnesses at his trial recanted their identification of DeWitt, but he was convicted by a jury and sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison.
As DeWitt appealed his case, he filed a public records request for the evidence in his case and said he found a document that was never turned over to his defense attorney. It showed that a witness had identified the other suspect to police.
The State’s Attorney’s Office did not challenge the authenticity of the report, and a judge overturned DeWit’s conviction in 2015. Prosecutors then dropped his case, and he was set free.
DeWitt then filed a federal lawsuit against the police detectives who handled his case.
The city hired attorneys out of Chicago known for defending wrongful conviction and police misconduct cases, and they examined DeWitt’s document and determined it was a clear forgery: Someone had filled in the blank, back side of an individually-numbered document. That document, in police and prosecutors’ records, contains no such account, they said.
The signature of the police detective does not match his signature, but rather how another detective wrote his name in other reports, the city contends. The word “homicide” is also misspelled as “homocide.”
They also found recorded conversations DeWitt had over the prison telephone system in which he discussed paying witnesses thousands of dollars, including the man whose name appears in the allegedly fraudulent document.
“Me and you and my lawyer, we gonna work something out as far as a contract where as though I give you and your brother ten stacks a piece because that’s when I can sue their ass for a lot of their bulls--- they did in my trial,” DeWitt was recorded saying, according to the transcript. “I can lace your pocket and your brother pocket for real.”
It’s not clear whether DeWitt’s criminal charges could be re-filed, or if he could face other charges. The State’s Attorney’s Office said it is looking into the matter, and said Friday that is had no updates.