When Tina Forrester’s husband was shot and killed in 2017 outside of the Baltimore Tattoo Museum, she made him a silent promise to never stop fighting to see justice for his death.
But Forrester said her hopes dimmed last month when a jury acquitted a man of the only charges filed in connection with her husband’s death.
“I lived that day all over again for nothing,” she said.
A jury acquitted Michael Bailey, 30, of the 2600 block of Ashland Ave., at a trial that relied heavily on video footage leading up to and of the killing. Bailey had been charged with first- and second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and other counts related to possession of a firearm, according to court records.
On Dec. 17, 2017, Jim Forrester, a local rock musician who worked as a body piercer, had stepped outside the museum and shop in the 1500 block of Eastern Ave. about 7:36 p.m. to call his wife when he was shot in the chest, according to police.
Bailey told investigators that he was one of the two men pictured in surveillance footage captured near the scene of the crime that night, said his defense attorney Christopher Purpura.
In the footage released publicly in January, Bailey can be seen carrying a coffee cup in one hand and a cigarette in another — a detail Purpura said proves Bailey was not holding the gun when the murder occurred.
“Unfortunately for the state, they were never able to arrest the person we think was responsible for the shooting,” Purpura said. “The detectives did a thorough investigation and identified Mr. Bailey as an individual that was present. The video evidence was fairly clear he wasn't the shooter.”
“We are disappointed by the outcome of this case; however, we respect the decision of the jurors and will continue to pursue justice for this victim,” Melba Saunders, a spokeswoman for the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, said in an email Friday.
Saunders declined to provide additional comment on the case, saying there’s still an open and pending investigation related to the matter.
Tina Forrester said the footage was blurry and not clear enough to show whether Bailey or the second man was the shooter.
Bailey cooperated with law enforcement to identify himself in the footage but said he could not identify the second man, who the defense argued pulled the trigger, Purpura said.
A second individual has not been charged in the case.
Forrester disagreed with the jury’s decision, particularly on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, she said through tears Friday.
“I agree they could not prove definitively he was the shooter, but he should have gotten some time for being complicit,” she said.
Forrester described the experience of the trial as a “nightmare” that caused her to relive the worst moment of her life — the moment when she listened to her husband die.
“I heard him killed on the phone, and then we did the trial and I watched him be killed on video, and then I saw autopsy photos of my husband on a table,” she said.
Forrester said she will not let go of that promise for justice she made to her husband. But lately, it has been hard not to feel despair, she said.
She paused to think about her hope for the future.
“I don’t have one,” she said.
This story has been updated to include comments from a State’s Attorney’s office spokesperson and to clarify Christopher Purpura’s statements about his client’s interaction with police.
Baltimore Sun reporter Kevin Rector contributed to this story.