Jury deliberates shooting case

December 17, 2009|By BRIDGET DiCOSMO

HAGERSTOWN -- Jurors in the second trial of a man charged in the Jan. 27 shooting of another man during an armed robbery in Smithsburg were unable to reach a verdict Thursday after deliberating for about 90 minutes in Washington County Circuit Court.

The jury will reconvene Friday at 9 a.m.

Anthony Caldwell, 26, formerly of 27 E. Lee St. in Hagerstown, is charged with attempted first-degree murder, attempted second-degree murder, first-degree assault, armed robbery, using a handgun in a felony violent crime, theft $500 plus, robbery, second-degree assault and wearing, carrying or transporting a handgun upon person.

The case originally was tried in September but ended in a mistrial when a juror admitted familiarity with Caldwell's family after alternate jurors had been excused.

Caldwell is accused of shooting Bruce Jones, 31, at about 1:40 a.m. after he and Louis Geraldo Gonzalez, 27, of 82 W. Washington St. in Hagerstown, arranged to meet Jones in a deserted area of Federal Lookout Road under the premise that Jones would buy prescription painkillers, according to court records.


Gonzalez faced the same charges as Caldwell, but he entered an Alford plea in September to armed robbery. Under an Alford plea, the defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to gain a conviction.

Gonzalez testified in Caldwell's first trial, but invoked his right against self-incrimination when called to testify Wednesday. He did the same thing when called to the witness stand Thursday.

Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler, in concluding the state's case against Caldwell, used testimony about DNA evidence from a ski mask and cell phone records in an effort to link Caldwell to the scene where Jones was shot in chest.

Jones testified Wednesday that he thought they were meeting to conduct a drug deal, but when he arrived with Gonzalez, a gunman ran toward him and fired a shot that hit him in the chest.

The last witness called by the state Thursday was Damon Burman, a forensic analyst with the Maryland State Police Crime Lab. He testified that he used DNA testing to pinpoint genetic material on a ski mask found in the glove box of Gonzalez's car.

The material contained genetic profiles from more than two individuals, Burman testified. One of those profiles matched a DNA sample taken from skin cells on the inside of Caldwell's cheek, he testified.

The likelihood of finding an identical, unrelated match in the African-American population carried a statistical probability of 1 in 620,000, Burman testified.

Gonzalez could not be excluded as a possible contributor to the material found on the mask, Burman testified.

Gavin Pinchback, a director of law enforcement relations for T-Mobile, testified that three incoming calls were made from Gonzalez's phone to one owned by Caldwell's former girlfriend beginning at 1:28 a.m. on Jan. 27.

The calls were traced to a cell phone tower near Smithsburg, Pinchback testified.

More than 10 incoming and outgoing calls occurred between the numbers between 2 and 3 a.m. on Jan. 27, most of which bounced off a Hagerstown tower.

During cross-examination, Pinchback testified that calls might not necessarily connect to the closest tower to the cell phone user.

Caldwell's former girlfriend, the first witness for the defense, testified that she made the calls to Gonzalez to make Caldwell jealous because they were quarreling.

William J. Caldwell, brother of Anthony Caldwell, testified they were both at their mother's residence in Hagerstown the night Jones was shot.

William Caldwell is currently housed at Washington County Detention Center on drug charges.

Because he would not take the stand, testimony given by Gonzalez during the September trial was read Thursday by an employee of the state's attorney's office.

In September, Gonzalez testified that he took Jones to Federal Lookout Road so that Caldwell could sell him some pain pills.

"That's when Anthony came out of nowhere and pointed a gun at us," Gonzalez testified in September.

He saw fire coming from the small, nickel-colored handgun, but didn't know that Jones had been shot until the next day, the testimony said.

"I was scared. I'd never been in that predicament before," Gonzalez testified.

During closing arguments, Assistant Public Defender Brian A. Hutchison read an e-mail from Pauler to Bailey that described the deal offered to Gonzalez.

Though he could have received two life sentences for the charges he faced, Pauler wrote in the e-mail that the state wouldn't oppose dropping the charges to no less than five years for the armed robbery.

Hutchison argued that the state's case rested on the "word of a drug-dealing liar given every imaginable incentive."

Pauler argued in her closing statement that the fact the state had cut a plea deal with Gonzalez had never been concealed.

"In this case, one person pulled the trigger," Pauler said.

Gonzalez might have helped plan the robbery, but the evidence pointed to Caldwell as the shooter, Pauler said.

The Herald-Mail Articles