20 officers, neighbors testify in trial of teenager charged in Baltimore County officer Amy Caprio's death

Jurors saw a photo of Baltimore County Police Officer Amy Caprio’s blood on the pavement and heard neighbors and police describe the afternoon she was killed as testimony continued on the second day of the trial of Dawnta Harris, one of the teens charged in her death.

Prosecutors on Wednesday called a marathon 20 witnesses — a dozen police officers, detectives and crime-scene technicians, as well as Parkville and Perry Hall neighbors, including two whose houses were burglarized — in Baltimore County Circuit Court in Towson.


Harris, now 17, was identified by police as the driver of a black Jeep Wrangler that struck Caprio on May 21. He had been waiting outside as three other teens burglarized a home on Linwen Way, according to police.

Harris is the first of the four teenagers who have been charged with felony murder in Caprio’s death. The other three are awaiting trial.


Caprio had responded to a reported suspicious vehicle at Matthew Clifford’s home. Clifford testified that his basement glass doors had been smashed with a brick and more than $3,300 of his belongings were ruined or missing, including a 9mm handgun.

Dawnta Harris, a 17-year-old accused of fatally striking Baltimore County police officer Amy Caprio last year, is the first teen accused in her death to stand trial this week.

Clifford described the missing items and damage to his home as Assistant State’s Attorney Robin Coffin flipped through photographs: a safe thrown down the steps, glass on the floor, a hole in his son’s bedroom ceiling.

“Our kids’ toys in the basement,” he said, “we had to throw them away because there were too many shards of glass.”

Neighbor James Kolb said he’d taken a break from work around the house when he saw three young men peeking around a house across the street.

Then he heard a bang.

“Those darn kids blew up a mailbox,” he recalled thinking, before adding that he later learned the bang must’ve been Caprio’s gunshot as the vehicle came toward her.

Kolb said he drove around the neighborhood to see what happened, but the teens were gone. He and another neighbor, Mary Delores Violanti, testified that they saw a young man walking down the street.

Police arrested Harris nearby a short time later.

Patricia Smith, who lives on Northwind Road in Parkville, said she returned from the movies just before 4 p.m. that day to find the deadbolt on her front door unlocked, a window shattered and her house ransacked.

In that burglary, too, a safe had been tossed down the steps. A ring given to Smith by her mother was missing, she said, as well as an old gaming system and other belongings.

Attorneys for some of the teens charged in the death of Baltimore County police officer Amy Caprio are attempting to distance their clients from murder charges filed in the case.

“There’s stuff all in my foyer,” she said in an emotional 911 call played in the courtroom. “I called for my dog. There was no answer. I’m worried about my dog.”

The labradoodle eventually came to her while she paced in the driveway, waiting for police and her adult son to arrive.


Smith testified that a clock on the floor next to the open safe in her foyer was broken with the batteries out, stopped at 1:30 p.m., which she said she believed was when the burglary occurred.

But J. Wyndal Gordon, an attorney for Harris, noted that the hands of the clock could have moved when it struck the floor.

“You don’t know what time it stopped, do you?” he asked Smith.

“No,” she replied.

Smith also testified she could not be sure Harris and the other suspects had been the ones who burglarized her home. But her neighbor Donald Williams said he and his wife saw the Jeep in her driveway as he and his wife drove by on their way back home from the dump.

“One person was standing outside the vehicle,” he said, adding that he could not be sure whether anyone else was inside it.

Harris, dressed in a black button-down shirt and gray slacks, silently took notes during much of the testimony.

Several of the police officers’ and crime scene technicians’ testimonies were brief and technical, explaining their evidence-gathering efforts, including fingerprinting and photographing the houses and the Jeep, and collecting surveillance footage of the day from nearby businesses.

Crime scene technician Jonathan Thorn described documenting blood, glass, a cartridge casing and other items in the street. Caprio’s family and friends left the courtroom before Gordon played part of the body camera footage while questioning another officer.

Detective Bratzo Gargurevich recalled finding a small bronze candlestick, which Smith had identified as being taken from her home in the break-in, during a search of the area around Linwen Avenue, about a six-minute drive away.

And Kenneth Chambers, who lives on Ardmore Avenue in Parkville, said he saw the Jeep stop outside another neighbor’s house as one of the teens stole a package containing plates from the front porch.

He correctly identified three of the characters of the Jeep’s license plate.

Despite a dark window tint, he said, “you could pick up silhouettes. It was four people.”

The trial could continue into early next week, and jurors are expected to be shown Harris’ videotaped interview with police and other evidence.

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