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Man acquitted in daylight shooting in '04

July 01, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A man who was charged as the gunman in an August 2004 daylight shooting in a Hagers- town alley was found not guilty Thursday on all counts by a Washington County Circuit Court jury after a trial in which three witnesses, including the victim and a Hagerstown City Council member, said they couldn't identify the shooter.

After a trial that lasted most of the day, the jury of seven women and five men acquitted Denroy L. Defretas, 19, of no fixed address, after nearly 90 minutes of deliberation on charges of first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and handgun violations, including discharging a handgun within city limits.

Defretas was charged with shooting Arnold Davis in the foot in Wareham Alley, which runs behind Sovereign Bank, formerly Waypoint Bank, off Jonathan Street, at 5:39 p.m. on Aug. 4, 2004.

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Defretas maintained a straight face until about the fourth not guilty finding, when his tightly pursed lips began to quiver and smirk. When the last verdict was read, his smirk had grown into a broad smile.

He is incarcerated at Maryland Correctional Institution-Hagerstown on an unrelated handgun conviction, said his attorney, Gordon Lynn.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler told the jury in her opening statement that there would be three types of witnesses in the case: Police, a city council member and other witnesses who "don't want to talk to police."

Hagerstown City Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire testified that he came out of a meeting at the Washington County Administration Building about 5:30 p.m. and was talking with City Councilman Lewis C. Metzner near his vehicle, which was parked next to the alley, when he saw a green car with two men inside pull into the alley. He testified that he watched two other men, one of whom later was identified as Davis, walk toward the car.

Aleshire testified that the car's passenger got out and fired a gun. The shooter, he testified, was "lighter complected, his hairstyle was short, if you will, and he had a hat on."

Aleshire testified he "got a look at his face, but I couldn't pick him out."

The victim in the case, Davis, testified, "I don't know what happened. It was too fast."

Davis testified that when he was presented a photographic lineup that included Defretas' picture, he couldn't pick out the shooter.

Hagerstown Police Department Detective Jason Ackerman testified that the man who was with Davis, Joseph Middleton, was shown a photographic lineup in November. Middleton picked Defretas as the shooter within "maybe a matter of seconds," Ackerman testified.

But when Middleton took the stand as a defense witness, he testified that he was shown a different photographic lineup than the one presented to him at the trial. He testified he never has seen Defretas.

On cross-examination by Pauler, Middleton said the markings made on the lineup weren't his because he remembered using a different colored pen.

"You're saying you didn't sign this?" Pauler asked.

"No, I didn't," he responded. Pauler had questioned whether Middleton "was scared to death" of Defretas and was afraid that he would appear to be a "snitch" if he testified now that he could pick him out.

"I'm not a snitch," Middleton said.

Ackerman also testified that a Crown Royal bag found among shoe boxes and clothes at a house where Defretas stayed was filled with bullets that matched shell casings and the bullet pulled from Arnold's foot.

He testified that Amanda Turner, then the girlfriend of Rasheen Nathan Henry, the driver of the car involved in the shooting, gave him an insurance card that she found in a pile of clothes that identified Defretas, whom she had told police was known as "Finesse."

Henry, 25, pleaded guilty in May to accessory after the fact in connection with the shooting, according to published reports. Henry, whose last known address was 464 Mitchell Ave., was sentenced in Washington County Circuit Court to serve a maximum five years in prison, according to published reports.

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