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Ward found guilty

February 07, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

After an hour of deliberation, a Washington County Circuit Court jury found Karim Ali Ward guilty of second-degree murder in the shooting death of Carl Anthony Wallace on Jonathan Street more than a year ago.

The jury found Ward, 28, not guilty of first-degree murder in the Dec. 14, 2002, death of Wallace, 28, in front of 466 N. Jonathan St.

The jury of eight women and four men also found Ward guilty of the use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence; wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun; unlawful possession of a regulated firearm; unlawful possession of a firearm and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.

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A pre-sentence investigation has been ordered for Ward, whose last known address before his arrest was 1725 Springhouse Court in Frederick, Md.

During closing arguments Friday, defense attorney John P. Corderman challenged the police investigation of the crime, telling the jury that officers didn't follow all possible leads. Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Michael told the jury that Ward was identified by witnesses as the shooter and that the idea Ward unfairly was targeted as a suspect was preposterous.

"What if? What if? Why not? Why not? Ladies and gentlemen, somehow the defense infers to you that Mr. Ward has been railroaded," Michael said.

But that was not the case, he said. Detectives received eyewitness accounts of the incident, reported them and then acted on them.

Corderman argued that there were at least two witnesses who saw a man run through an alley behind Jonathan Street, but that police did not take their statements down. He said Michael did not call those witnesses to the stand because their comments differed from the "state's theory" that Ward committed the shooting.

But Michael said the two men that Corderman spoke of did not see the shooting. What they saw was a person running.

The people who did see the shooting came forward with their statements, Michael said, adding that doing so was not an easy task for the witnesses, who feared retaliation.

He referred to the statement made to police by Shree Harrell, a woman who testified Wednesday that she was with Wallace at the time of the shooting: "All I know is that there was only one gun out there and (Ward) shot him coldblooded."

Corderman attacked Harrell's statement, saying that she initially told police she didn't know anything.

"Her friend is lying dead in the street and she knows nothing?" Corderman said.

Michael said Harrell's testimony that Wallace was shot in the back concurred with state assistant medical examiner Dr. Susan Hogan's testimony that Wallace had gunshots in his back.

Michael called Corderman's defense Thursday of blaming police for not following leads "Monday morning quarterbacking."

Corderman had no problem with that distinction and used it in his own closing argument.

"Mr. Michael has characterized my dealings here as Monday morning quarterbacking. Well, I guess I would be guilty of that," he said. "It's because somebody didn't get the job done."

Corderman wrote on large notebooks pinned to easels in the courtroom what he said were conflicting witness descriptions of the suspect.

In Michael's rebuttal, he went back to the drawing boards, adding in details of the witnesses' descriptions that Corderman left out in his closing argument, painting a picture that Ward matched all their statements.

He asked the jury to think hard about what Michael, himself, was wearing in court on Monday. He said witnesses don't focus on clothes, but on actions.

"Where does your eye go? To the jersey? To the pants?" he said, "Or to the gun that might be pointed next at you."

Corderman, sighing and shaking his head through most of his own closing argument, said police closed the case at the end of the business day Dec. 14., which was too soon.

"The state has not advanced the ball across the goal and you are the Monday morning quarterbacks," he said before telling the jury they must find Ward not guilty.

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