In April 2011, the body of a student from North Carolina was found floating in the Susquehanna River. She had been in Baltimore visiting her sister. Her sister’s boyfriend was charged with the teenager’s murder.
The first trial occurred in February 2013. The state’s primary witness was an inmate who told police and prosecutors that the defendant had asked him to help get rid of the teen’s body. The jury in that trial had found the defendant guilty of second-degree murder; however, the judge threw out that verdict, saying that the prosecution didn’t tell the defense everything about the witness. Apparently, the witness had testified in two other trials that were not related to this case. He would have been used as a witness in another murder trial, but an officer didn’t believe he was credible. It’s this last bit of information that was held from the defense.
The prosecution filed over 30 motions, including one asking the prosecution recuse themselves. Almost all of the motions were denied by the Baltimore Circuit judge. The defense also filed a motion asking the judge to recuse himself, too. That motion was denied as well.
The new trial just started and this time, the prosecution’s witness — who was also the only person who could put the defendant at the murder scene — won’t be testifying this time. The defendant has new attorneys for this trial.
Those charged with violent crimes such as murder, rape and assault need experienced, knowledgeable legal representation. Because the penalties are so high, it’s important that such representation be secured as early as possible in the case. This will allow the defendant and his or her attorneys to put together a strong defense case based upon the evidence.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Second trial in Phylicia Barnes murder begins without key witness” Justin Fenton, Dec. 05, 2014