A Baltimore circuit judge held two city prosecutors in contempt of court after they arranged a lunch meeting between cooperating witnesses in a major murder trial, the state's attorney's office confirmed Tuesday.
Kelly Madigan and LaRai Everett, prosecutors in the elite Major Investigations Unit, were each fined $100, according to the state's attorney's office.
Madigan and Everett are prosecuting the case of Robert G. Moore and two co-defendants, all accused of a series of retaliatory shootings that continued for almost a year. A number of other people were charged in the case, including Moore's wife, Sarah Hooker, and her brother, Donnie Adams.
Prosecutors arranged for Hooker and Adams, who had both pleaded guilty and agreed to testify, to meet at the courthouse in the middle of the trial. Defense lawyers argued that Hooker had been on the fence about cooperating before the lunch and said they should have been told about it.
They asked Circuit Judge Emanuel Brown to throw out the case. Instead, he allowed the lawyers to question the two witnesses about the lunch and raise it in their closing arguments.
The jury is now deliberating conspiracy, murder and attempted-murder charges against Moore and his brother, Anthony Roach, and conspiracy and attempted-murder charges against Moore's nephew, Quincy Chisholm.
If any of the three men is convicted, his lawyers could potentially raise the issue of the lunch on appeal.
Charles N. Curlett Jr., a defense attorney not involved in the case, said that by allowing the defendants' lawyers to ask questions, Brown gave them a chance to make an issue of the lunch at the trial, weakening any potential appeal.
Madigan and Everett arranged for Hooker and Adams to meet at the downtown Baltimore courthouse two weeks ago. Garland Sanderson, Chisholm's attorney, discovered the meeting by chance when he saw Adams smoking a cigarette outside the building.
The two witnesses were closely involved in the shooting conspiracy, according to prosecutors. Hooker helped pick out targets and coordinated attacks when Moore was in jail on another charge, they say, while Adams took part in the spree.
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When Sanderson first raised the issue, Brown said he found the prosecutors' actions "contemptible" and said they "violated the process in a way that cannot be tolerated."
Hooker and Adams are both in custody, and Brown added that his biggest concern was any misuse of the process used to order inmates transported to the courthouse. He declined to comment on the ruling Tuesday.
Madigan also accepted responsibility for the meeting at that hearing, saying she was trying to "do something nice on a human level."
Mark Cheshire, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, declined to comment because the case is continuing.
The case, a high-profile test of the Major Investigations Unit created by State's Attorney Gregg L. Bernstein, has had a number of unusual twists. Moore is alleged to have threatened to kill the two prosecutors but is absent from the courtroom because he refuses to recognize the judge's authority.