February 16, 2005

Jury Unable To Reach Agreement, Adjourns In Blackwell Trial


POSTED: 5:25 pm EST February 16, 2005
UPDATED: 5:28 pm EST February 16, 2005

BALTIMORE -- Jury deliberations paused Wednesday afternoon in the trial of a former priest accused of sexually molesting an altar boy, who shot the cleric on a city street a decade after the alleged abuse.

Jurors, who began deliberating shortly before noon, sent a note to Baltimore Circuit Judge Stuart Berger saying they were unable to agree on any of the four charges against defrocked priest Maurice Blackwell. Berger sent to jurors home about 4:45 p.m., and deliberations will resume at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Earlier Wednesday, in their closing arguments, attorneys focused on the former altar boy, Dontee Stokes, portraying him as a disturbed young man who made up the allegations to deal with a sexual identity crisis, and a vulnerable victim preyed upon by a trusted father figure.

Defense attorney Kenneth Ravenell told jurors Stokes had "homosexual tendencies" and was "willing to lie" to protect the secret of his sexual identity.

Ravenell, the attorney for defrocked priest Maurice Blackwell, said Stokes fabricated the abuse allegations as a way of dealing with his sexuality.

"There was absolutely no credibility to anything Dontee Stokes has told you," the defense attorney told jurors, also describing Stokes' claims of "alien abduction" and out-of-body experiences.

Posted by kshaw at February 16, 2005 04:58 PM