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Defense blasts state case in killing of transgender woman

Shawn Oliver mugshot
(Handout photo courtesy Baltimore Police Department)

The defense attorney representing the man accused of murdering NBA player Reggie Bullock's sister blasted the state's case in opening arguments Tuesday, calling it a "pointless" and "cruel" prosecution.

Mia Henderson, a 26-year-old transgender woman, was found stabbed to death just before 6 a.m. in an alley in West Baltimore on July 16, 2014. Assistant State's Attorney Charles Fitzpatrick told jurors that months later, police linked DNA found under her fingernails to a Hagerstown man named Shawn Oliver.

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Oliver, 46, told police that he had had sex with Henderson the night before, but said he did not kill her.

Public defender Isabel Lipman said that phone records showed that Henderson was using her cell phone at 3:30 a.m., at a time when Oliver's own phone records show he was back in Hagerstown.

A forensic analyst also testified that DNA of an unknown man was also found on Henderson's body — and that Oliver had been specifically excluded as belonging to the sample.

"I don't know why this is going on," Lipman said of the trial. "I don't know why you're here, why he's here."

Lipman said Oliver was "completely innocent of these charges" and called the case a "false prosecution."

Henderson, who was previously known as Kevin Long, is the sister of Bullock, who plays for the Detroit Pistons. He has a tribute to Henderson posted on his Twitter page.

Oliver was charged with first degree murder and use of a deadly weapon in August 2015. At the time, Police Commissioner Kevin Davis said, "Mia fought back, and thank God she fought back because we were able to close this case with a DNA hit."

Oliver is already serving a 10-year prison term after pleading guilty in November 2015 to distributing heroin in his home county of Washington County, according to court records. Court records show a long history of arrests and convictions in various jurisdictions dating to 1994, mostly for drugs and theft.

Det. Sgt. Rob Ross took the stand briefly on Tuesday, testifying that police directed vice units to try to find leads on the killing. He said he two other possible suspects were questioned, one who had posted threats to the transgender community on Facebook, and another who a prostitute from the area said had driven by and said, "People need to be careful in this area dressing like women. People are getting killed over that."

DNA samples were taken from those men, and did not match the profiles found on Henderson's body.

Oliver's statement to police was expected to be played for the jury Wednesday. Oliver's girlfriend at the time was summoned to appear as a witness, but did not show up for court, Fitzpatrick told Judge Melissa Phinn.

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