Baltimore judge revokes bail for man accused of barroom murder in Fells Point

Phillip West walked into a Baltimore courtroom Friday seeking permission to leave home for doctors’ appointments while he awaits trial for murder.

Instead, West saw his bail revoked and found himself arrested and escorted off to jail. The surprise turn of events frustrated his defense attorney and led to a tense courtroom exchange.


“What you’re doing is a farce,” defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell told the judge.

Circuit Judge Charles Peters tried to call the next case, but Ravenell went on.


“You want to keep talking, Mr. Ravenell?” Peters said, “I have never for a second contemplated holding a lawyer in contempt.”

The hearing Friday settled continued legal wrangling over the prospect of bail. Phillip Stanley West, 48, of Rosemont, is charged with first-degree murder after a barroom shooting last December in Fells Point. His trial is scheduled for June, and he faces life in prison if convicted.

In murder cases, judges routinely deny bail. District Judge Michael Studdard, however, set a bail of $100,000 for West. The defendant paid and was released with an electronic monitoring bracelet. He’s spent the past three months at home.

Studdard’s decision quickly drew backlash.

“When we see individuals being let out, that goes to whether or not there’s a deterrent to committing crime,” Interim Police Commissioner Gary Tuggle said in January. “We need to have that bail process be a reflection of deterrence.”

City Councilman Zeke Cohen represents Fells Point and weighed in, too.

“This is not about the presumption of innocence,” Cohen wrote on Facebook. “This defendant will have his day in court. This is about public safety.”

While on house arrest, West has suffered blood clots, Ravenell told the judge. On Friday, the attorney sought permission for West to travel regularly to his doctor. Prosecutors, however, used the hearing to argue that West should never have been released.


“He [Studdard] did not adequately address the risk to public safety,” Assistant State’s Attorney Traci Robinson said.

She told the judge that West and the victim, Rodney Beamon Jr. of Cincinnati, had exchanged $100,000 in cash before Beamon was shot to death. She said West gave Beamon the cash bundled in small amounts.

“This is consistent with drug dealing,” Robinson told the judge.The two men were seen drinking, shooting pool and, eventually, arguing at the Blarney Stone Pub on South Broadway. Patrons overheard West raising his voice, Robinson told the judge.

“Something to the effect of: He was not going to be disrespected,” she said.

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Beamon was shot eight times and died. West surrendered to police about three weeks later. While on house arrest, he left once to visit the hospital — in an ambulance, his attorney says — and again for a follow-up appointment with the doctor.

Robinson said the private monitoring company never informed prosecutors that West left home.


“Who is monitoring the defendant when he’s going to these medical appointments?” she asked.

West’s life was at risk and he needed treatment, Ravenell said. The attorney asked the judge to approve trips to the doctor.

But Peters said he was concerned that the monitoring company had failed to report when West left the house, even if it was only for the hospital. Peters turned and asked officials in the courtroom if West could return to house arrest under a state supervision program. They told him that that program is barred to those accused of violent crimes.

“I am happy to go along with Judge Studdard’s order,” Peters said. “But it is not going to be home detention by a private contractor.”

Ravenell pushed back, saying the judge knew the state conditions all along. He argued this exercise was a farce to justify locking up West. Peters didn’t budge, and sheriff’s deputies led West away.