A Cherry Hill man previously sentenced to more than two consecutive life sentences for his role in the 2013 death of 1-year-old Carter Scott was acquitted Wednesday after winning a new trial by appealing his case.
Cornell Harvey, now 31, was convicted in August 2015 of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and attempted first-degree murder after prosecutors said he lured Rashaw Scott to a parking lot where a group of men opened fire on a vehicle, killing Scott’s son Carter.
Despite his acquittal, Harvey remains incarcerated for a different case.
According to prosecutors, Rashaw Scott told police officers at the scene that Harvey had set him up, conspiring with five other defendants. But when the first trial began, Scott refused to come to court to testify and had to be arrested.
Harvey was not convicted of firing any shots, and has maintained his innocence throughout the case.
His attorney, Joshua Insley, said the state lacked any evidence supporting its theory that his client had communicated with the gunmen to lure Scott to the location.
“He never should have been convicted the first time. That is why it was reversed. This trial corrected that mistake. I was proud to represent him,” Insley said in a tweet posted Wednesday after his client was acquitted.
Maryland’s Court of Special Appeals reversed Harvey’s conviction in an opinion filed in October 2016 and remanded the case to Baltimore Circuit Court for a new trial.
In that decision, Judge Kathryn Grill Graeff wrote that Harvey should receive a new trial because of prejudicial comments made by Scott during testimony. In response to questions on the stand, Scott told jurors he met Harvey in jail. “We know each other through bad stuff. Both of us locked up for murder, and that’s how we know each other,” Scott said, according to the opinion.
Testimony in the new trial concluded last Wednesday and jurors reached their verdict a week later.
“He’s been fighting this case for five years. I don’t think it sunk in for him,” Insley said in an interview. “He’s always maintained his innocence. We feel justice was finally served today.”
While Harvey was acquitted, his co-defendant, Eddie Tarver, 26, who also won a new trial on appeal, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder. His sentencing is scheduled for a later date. Tarver was previously convicted of first-degree murder in the case in 2017.
Tarver’s attorney did not return a call for comment.
The state’s attorney’s office said in a statement that prosecutors had successfully tried all six defendants, receiving a conviction against each, but were forced to retry two.
“Despite our best efforts to convict Cornell Harvey by presenting relevant evidence, he was acquitted by a jury of his peers which is a decision we must respect. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Carter Scott at this time," the statement said.
Harvey remains incarcerated on a federal conspiracy conviction, sentenced to more than 20 years in June 2016, court records show.
According to the federal indictment, Harvey was a member of “Up the Hill” or “Up Da Hill” organization that operated out of Cherry Hill. Harvey, whose nickname is "Little Head," is named in the indictment along with another man in the 2010 killing of Randol Buncombe, 24.
According to the indictment, prosecutors said Harvey and another member killed Buncombe and injured another man, “because the victims were selling drugs in UDH territory.”
Federal prosecutors have charged more than 30 defendants associated with Up Da Hill since 2013. The group, prosecutors said, operates out of the South Baltimore neighborhood, and feuded with rival Cherry Hill criminal gangs “Coppin Court,” “Little Spelman” and “Hillside.”