A Baltimore man who fatally shot another man in the back has been cleared of murder charges after he was able to describe his claim of self-defense to a city grand jury, which rejected an indictment.
Maurice Timothy Jones, 35, was charged last month with fatally shooting 31-year-old Seth Tunstall on Sept. 7 outside of a convenience store in Cherry Hill. Surveillance video showed the two had engaged in a fist fight; Jones left the store, and was pursued by Tunstall, who emerged pointing a gun at him. When Jones drew his own weapon, Tunstall attempted to flee and was shot in the back.
Jones’ attorney, Warren Brown, said that prosecutors told him that they were pursuing charges because Tunstall had been shot in the back. Brown said the shooting still was justified because of the danger posed to his client.
“My client can’t trust that this guy isn’t going to wheel around and start shooting,” Brown said.
Brown said prosecutors asked if Jones would be willing to testify in front of the grand jury. Brown said he was comfortable putting his client in front of the panel, because his story was not going to change even if it went to trial.
“He’s a businessman, he has a tag and title business. He doesn’t have any criminal record. The gun was registered to him, though he didn’t have a license to carry,” Brown said. “He shouldn’t have had the gun with him, but it probably saved his life.”
After the grand jury refused to indict, Brown expected his client would be released. But he still was being held on murder charges filed in District Court, and Brown said prosecutors told him they were exploring other ways to keep pursuing the case.
Brown said he appealed directly to State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby. “I hit up Marilyn and I said, this doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
The charges were dropped Monday, and Jones was released Tuesday, Brown said.
Zy Richardson, the spokeswoman for the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, said Mosby, her executive team and the assigned prosecutor met to review the evidence “and decided to respectfully adhere to the Grand Jury’s decision to not move forward with charges.”
Tunstall’s family could not be reached for comment.
The dropped case comes as prosecutors announced a conviction in another killing.
Jimmy McRavin, 24, was convicted by a jury for the murder of his girlfriend’s cousin, James Thompson, 25, which took place at Perkins Homes on Oct. 12, 2019.
Prosecutors said McRavin was arguing with his girlfriend, and he grabbed her by the neck and kicked her. The girlfriend called Thompson to the home, and when he arrived he was shot by McRavin, who fled. McRavin will be sentenced Dec. 10.