Judge may allow testimony from dead witness
Use in music producer trial would be first under state's intimidation law
This story was corrected on Aug. 6, 2009. An explanation of the correction is at the end of the story.
A Prince George's County Circuit Court judge is expected to decide this week whether prosecutors can use the sworn testimony of a witness who was killed shortly before he was scheduled to testify in the murder trial of a Mitchellville music producer.
The case would be the first in the state to employ the Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-804(b)(5), which allows prosecutors to use the sworn testimony of witnesses made unavailable through intimidation, threatening or homicide. The hearing began Tuesday.
By press time Wednesday, Judge Philip Nichols had yet to decide whether prosecutors will be able to posthumously admit sworn testimony from Bobby Ennels, 22, of Capitol Heights, who was a suspected accomplice in the October 2006 death of Raymond Brown, known as "Scottie Beats," near Brown's Lake Arbor Home.
Ennels was arrested and charged May 1, 2007, with first-degree murder. He pleaded guilty to a theft charge and agreed to testify in the trial of the man accused of killing Brown in exchange for leniency.
Ennels was killed Oct. 7, 2008, only weeks before he was expected to testify against Jamaal Alexis, 23, of Landover who is accused of fatally shooting Brown. Alexis' brother, Rashadd Alexis, 20, of Landover is accused of killing Ennels and was arrested June 30.
Prince George's County State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) said Friday that if the law is used in this case it will help justice be served and allow the judge and jury to hear all the evidence.
Clamor for the law stemmed from numerous witnesses being murdered in Baltimore City and the "Stop Snitching" DVD that surfaced on the city's streets in 2004.
The two-hour DVD, created to intimidate witnesses from testifying, featured NBA star and Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony.
The witness intimidation law was enacted in October 2005 by then-Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R).
On July 31, Jamaal Alexis was indicted on charges of 12 counts and Rashadd Alexis was indicted on 10 counts of murder, first-degree assault and retaliation for testimony, among other charges.
On Tuesday, Jamaal Alexis' attorney Ross Hecht said that his client is not guilty in Brown's murder and that he did not ask his brother to kill Ennels. Hecht said he believes a jury will find Alexis not guilty.
On Oct. 7, 2008, Ennels and Anthony Cash III, 22, of Capitol Heights were found shot in a car in Landover and both died shortly after, according to charging documents. A 16-year-old girl was also shot but survived.
Twenty minutes after Ennels and Cash were found, Rashadd Alexis was pulled over by police for speeding in Landover. Police saw a small amount of blood on Alexis' shirt and torn jeans, and he told officers he was in a fight and allowed to go, according to charging documents.
Amadu Sulamon Jalloh, also known as Kamara Mohamed, was Jamaal Alexis' cellmate when he was an inmate at the Prince George's County Department of Corrections in Upper Marlboro. Jalloh had a court order to appear at the hearing Tuesday and Wednesday.
An April 7 motion filed by E. Wesley Adams, a county assistant state's attorney, alleges Jamaal Alexis told Jalloh he murdered Brown.
Jalloh is expected to testify against Jamaal Alexis at his upcoming trial.
Prosecutors allege Jamaal Alexis approached another man allegedly involved in Brown's murder, Neiman Marcus Edmonds, 21, of Upper Marlboro, with a plan to kill Ennels, staging what would look like a drive-by shooting, but Edmonds was nervous he was being set up and refused, according to charging documents filed in Prince George's County Circuit Court. Edmonds was arrested April 10, 2007, for his involvement in Brown's murder.
Edmonds had a court order to appear at this week's hearing.
Nichols heard testimony Tuesday from Jalloh; Jalloh's attorney, James Zafiropulous; Edmonds; the 16-year-old who was shot in the car with Ennels; and Prince George's County police officer Juan Nolasco.
Jamaal Alexis' trial is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Aug. 24. His trial has been postponed five times as he switched attorneys and evidence was being gathered to determine the viability of using the Maryland Rule of Evidence.
Rashadd Alexis' trial will likely begin later this year or early next year.
E-mail Liz Skalski at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: A previous version of this story stated that this case case is the first in the state to employ the Maryland Rule of Evidence 5-804(b)(5). Judge Nichols had not yet accepted the case as of publication.