A Hyattsville man accused of firing gunshots at a Prince George’s officer, aiding an armed carjacking and fleeing from police in a Riverdale neighborhood was found not guilty April 11 by a Prince George’s County Circuit Court jury.
Martel Antonio Hall, 23, of the 5700 block of 29th Avenue was initially charged with 23 counts of attempted murder, armed robbery, carjacking, assault and eluding police among other charges for the March 27, 2012, incident.
Police said he was involved in the crime on 59th Avenue in Riverdale where he and an accomplice hijacked a man’s car with the man inside, drove him to an ATM where they demanded he withdraw cash, then drove back to his residence where police were already on scene interviewing the victim’s wife. County police have said the two suspects tried to drive off before crashing into another vehicle, bailing out and running away while firing back at officers.
Lacey Johnson, 20, of Washington, D.C., was found close to the scene that night while the second suspect, who police said was Hall, escaped. Hall was later arrested Sept. 5, 2012, after being identified as a suspect.
Johnson took a plea agreement after his arrest and was sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to the county’s state’s attorney’s office.
John Erzen, a state’s attorney’s office spokesman, said Johnson had been wearing a GPS ankle bracelet for probation for an unrelated crime and the tracker linked him to the incident. He also said Johnson was arrested on scene so evidence of his involvement was “much stronger,” but evidence for Hall’s involvement was more “circumstantial.”
“We didn’t have the chance to talk to the jury so we don’t know what swung them to find him not guilty,” said Erzen, who said prosecutors asked the jury to find Hall guilty on all counts. “While obviously the evidence was somewhat circumstantial, we thought it was strong enough to bring the case against Hall.”
Erzen said there were phone records that showed Hall and Johnson communicating before and during the incident and said he was identified by the victim using a photo array of possible suspects.
At the culmination of the four-day trial, the 12-member jury found that Hall was not the man who ran away and had no part in the crime.
Robin Ficker, a Bethesda-based attorney representing Hall, said his client’s charges were unreasonable since there was no DNA evidence found on a gun or in the stolen vehicle that pointed to Hall.
“Prosecutors painted them [Johnson and Hall] as birds of a feather that were flocking together,” he said. “Hall spent his time baby-sitting for three little girls. He couldn’t go out and leave them alone at night to go do an armed carjacking.”
Hall said despite facing charges, he is thankful he sought a private attorney for defense and that he was found not guilty.
“I feel as though the state needs to do more of an investigation instead of just saying because of the color I was and the color of my hair that’s the reason I was a suspect,” he said. “I’m happy that I had good people in my corner to support me. In my heart I knew I didn’t do it, but I couldn’t actually show people that.”
Hall said he was applying to GED programs at the time of his arrest and is working on getting his GED once again now that he was found not guilty.