February 16, 2005

Judge in Blackwell case worries about fair trial

Baltimore Sun

By Julie Bykowicz
Sun Staff
Originally published February 16, 2005
The judge in the sexual child abuse case of Maurice Blackwell said yesterday that he was struggling to maintain a fair trial for the defrocked priest and chastised two detectives who have made references on the witness stand and in front of television cameras to "other victims."

After the jury left the courtroom, Baltimore Circuit Judge Stuart R. Berger held a hearing to determine whether the two detectives should be found in contempt of court. A decision is expected later, but the judge said he was "outraged" by the investigators' conduct.

"I have tried, and I have failed," Berger said of his efforts to keep jurors from hearing references to other victims. "That concerns me deeply."

Blackwell's trial has attracted national attention because his alleged victim, a one-time altar boy at St. Edward Catholic Church in West Baltimore, shot him in May 2002, at the height of the priest abuse scandal in the American Catholic church. Dontee Stokes, 29, was acquitted of attempted murder, and now Blackwell, 58, is facing four counts of sexual child abuse for allegedly molesting Stokes as a teen-ager from 1989 to 1992.

Posted by kshaw at February 16, 2005 03:54 AM