Baltimore Officer Jailed to Ensure Testimony

Discussion in 'Cop Talk' started by JohnnyReb, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. JohnnyReb

    JohnnyReb Lifetime Member

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    BY TRICIA BISHOP
    The Baltimore Sun

    A Baltimore police officer spent Monday night at the Central Booking and Intake Center after a Circuit Court judge issued a "material witness" warrant against the woman -- at the request of the city's State's Attorney's Office -- when she didn't appear for a gun trial that afternoon.

    "This is an important prosecution, this is a necessary prosecution, and this particular police officer was a necessary witness," said Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the state's attorney's office. "Without her testimony, we would not have been able to go forward."

    The officer, listed in court records as Victoria Wingfield, was scheduled to testify in a case against Kinte Johnson, 35, who was charged with being a felon illegally in possession of a handgun. But she never appeared, and the contact numbers she left had been disconnected, Burns said.

    "We are reviewing all the facts of this case" to make sure that something like this never happens again, said police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi, referring specifically to an officer spending the night in lockup, which he called a "literally extraordinary event." He added that Police Commissioner Frederick H. Bealefeld III is "personally involved" in the review.

    In a brief telephone interview Tuesday, Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Gale E. Rasin confirmed that she had issued the warrant. Wingfield, 36, who is assigned to the Southwestern District patrol, appeared in court that morning to testify during a motions hearing.

    "She got on the stand, and for her benefit, I told her what happened [Monday] and talked about what it means to be on call," Rasin said.

    Wingfield's testimony was crucial in fighting a defense motion to suppress certain information, Burns said. The officer was not called as a witness for the prosecution during the trial, which lasted about two hours, though she testified for the defense Tuesday afternoon.

    After a brief deliberation Tuesday, a jury returned a conviction against Johnson, Burns said.

    According to the facts presented during the trial, Wingfield and another officer discovered Johnson one January night in 2009 attempting to conceal something while he sat in a green minivan on the 1900 block of Sponson St. Wingfield parked behind the van and acted as the backup officer, while her partner checked out the vehicle. He saw a face mask, black gloves, two pry bars and what appeared to be the butt of a handgun. A semiautomatic pistol was later recovered, and Johnson was arrested, along with another man.

    Court records show Johnson, who lives in Crofton, has prior convictions for drug possession with the intent to distribute.

    Getting guns off the streets, particularly those possessed by convicted felons, is a priority for Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy, who is urging the legislature to strengthen proposed gun laws. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie C. Rawlings-Blake has also urged lawmakers to tighten gun legislation and stressed the importance of the issue during her State of the City address last month.

    Johnson was sentenced to five years without parole for being a felon in possession of a firearm. Baltimore Assistant State's Attorney Jason Knight prosecuted the case.

    McClatchy-Tribune News Service

    http://www.officer.com/online/article.jsp?siteSection=1&id=51288
     
  2. rdrkt

    rdrkt

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    She was at the range that day which is why she was on call.
     

  3. OLY-M4gery

    OLY-M4gery

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    And the contact numbers she left didn't work because?
     
  4. rdrkt

    rdrkt

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    How would she have known to go to court if they couldnt contact her? She spoke with the states attorney earlier and was placed on call. She was at the range and couldnt make it to court fast enough for the judge.
     
  5. Sharkey

    Sharkey

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    I saw so many cases held over for a lot of reasons, some personal, and they issue a witness warrant for that? Unless she has a history of missing court, which should be addressed by Admin., this sounds like BS. Glad I don't live in Baltimore.
     
  6. Gangrel

    Gangrel

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    In our city it is the Officer's responsibility to make sure his/her contact information is up to date within 24 hours of any change...
     
  7. deadday

    deadday

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    ..that is SOP for every agency I can think of....
     
  8. JohnnyReb

    JohnnyReb Lifetime Member

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    Ours is 3 days. If I get a subpoena, I call the state's attorney the day prior to the case, and request to be put on, on call status. They mark my name down, take my number, and ask what my ETA would be if they need me.
     
  9. OLY-M4gery

    OLY-M4gery

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    We get a subpoena when we are required to be at a Court proceeding.

    Since she had been in Court earlier in the day, I think it's a stretch to say she didn't know there was a case coming up.
     
  10. deadday

    deadday

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    I'd put money on her having a history of missing court dates...
     
  11. OLY-M4gery

    OLY-M4gery

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    :honkie:

    He was talking about requirements to have your contact info updated, within 24 hrs, with the agency that employs you.

    Even in your scenario, would it be ok to give phone numbers that are disconected as contact numbers?

    Somewhere along the line, they needed to get in touch with her to tell her to get to Court. Whether she forgot a subpoena, or was told to be "on call". When they tried to call her, the contact info she had, either at her department, or with the Prosecutors Office, was useless.
     
  12. JohnnyReb

    JohnnyReb Lifetime Member

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    I understand what he was talking about. Its 3 days with my agency. I agree, apparently they had no way to get ahold of her, and pissed the judge off.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2010
  13. CanIhaveGasCash

    CanIhaveGasCash

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    Something here stinks. If its the officer's fault for not updating her contact info then that is on her. If it is a mistake on the other end I hope she at least gets paid for the time she spent in lockup.
     
  14. lawman800

    lawman800 Juris Glocktor

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    It just keeps getting better, don't it?
    Bet you she'll never miss court again.

    We have a policy to have a home # and a cell # available and we must update it asap when it changes. We also have a response time requirement that we are to be able to get to the station within an hour when called up.

    The court subpoena thing was not really an issue until one officer kept blowing off court since he wasn't on-duty and didn't want to come in for afternoon court when he was already off work. One day, the judge just got fed up and made an angry call to the chief who then changed the policy that all court appearances (including traffic and juvenile) are now MANDATORY. Before that, we could miss traffic court and some juvenile court matters like minor infractions if we are on days off.