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Ward trial won't be moved or postponed

January 30, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Two Washington County Circuit Court judges on Thursday denied defense motions to have the murder trial of Karim Ali Ward moved or postponed.

Ward, 28, whose last address before his arrest was 1725 Springhouse Court, Frederick, Md., is charged in the December 2002 shooting death of Carl Anthony Wallace, 28, of Asbury Park, N.J., on Jonathan Street in Hagerstown.

Defense attorney John P. Corderman told Judge Donald E. Beachley that due to the publicity of the case in The Herald-Mail, The Frederick News-Post and on "America's Most Wanted," Ward could not get a fair trial in Hagerstown.

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Ward, wearing a long-sleeved white T-shirt, his corn-rowed hair pulled low in pigtails, took the witness stand Thursday to testify that he has concerns about getting a fair trial.

"I didn't murder anyone and I think hearing the case here doesn't give me the best chance and, I mean, I just want the best chance possible," he said.

Pulling out 11 exhibits, mostly Herald-Mail articles tracking the arrest of Ward, Corderman argued that none of the articles mentioned Wallace was armed.

"We believe that that portrayal is erroneous," he said.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Michael argued there is no relevance to whether or not Wallace was armed.

Besides, Michael said, "Not everybody reads the paper."

Beachley later agreed, saying that in a county of between 130,000 and 140,000 residents, the court will be able to find a jury that isn't prejudiced.

Corderman also made a motion to have Michael refer to Wallace during the trial as "the decedent" or "Mr. Wallace" instead of "the victim." Beachley denied that motion, saying Corderman showed him no prior rulings that permitted it.

Michael said before the ruling, "The man on the street was shot seven times. He is a victim."

Administrative Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III, who schedules cases, later came in to rule on the defense's motion to have the trial postponed.

When Corderman said he needed more time to get Wallace's criminal records from New Jersey, Wright asked, "What difference does it make?"

Corderman said he might be able to argue that Wallace was the aggressor in the shooting if he had records that would back his theory that "Maybe Mr. Wallace is a guy who has a temper."

Wright denied the request.

Ward is scheduled to appear in Circuit Court at 9:30 a.m. Monday.

He is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree assault, second-degree assault and several handgun charges.

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