April 08, 2005

Priest accused of sex abuse gets new trial

Bradenton Herald

Associated Press

BALTIMORE - A judge granted a new trial Friday to defrocked priest Maurice Blackwell on charges that he molested a boy who later shot him. The conviction was thrown out less than two months after a jury found the former priest guilty.

"The court finds the interests of justice compel the granting of a new trial," Circuit Judge Stuart Berger wrote in his order.

The judge agreed with defense arguments that jurors should not have heard prosecution witnesses testify about other alleged victims of Blackwell, 58.

In a hearing earlier Friday, defense lawyer Kenneth Ravenell argued that references by two Baltimore Police Department investigators to other victims made it impossible for his client to get a fair trial.

Ravenell told Berger that while the trial judge instructed the jury to ignore the comments, the damage was done. He also argued that the cumulative effect of the references may have made it hard for the jury to set them aside.

Posted by kshaw at April 8, 2005 02:19 PM