February 23, 2005

Blackwell's attorney files motion seeking new trial

Baltimore Sun

By Julie Bykowicz
Sun Staff
Originally published February 23, 2005, 10:48 AM EST
The attorney for a defrocked Baltimore priest convicted last week of sexual child abuse filed this morning a sweeping motion for a new trial, noting "a circus-like atmosphere where it was impossible for the defendant to receive a fair trial."

Maurice Blackwell was convicted last Thursday of molesting Dontee Stokes, a one-time parish choirboy who later shot him. He could face up to 45 years in prison when he is sentenced April 15.

The motion for a new trial cites four circumstances that defense lawyer Kenneth W. Ravenell said in and of themselves would be grounds for a new trial. Among Ravenell's complaints: television interviews of sequestered witnesses, references on the witness stand to "other victims," and the conduct of Stokes' relatives, who would loudly call out "pervert" as Blackwell passed by in the hallway outside the courtroom.

Ravenell also noted that trial Judge Stuart R. Berger, to whom this motion was submitted, proclaimed in a hearing during the trial that he had "failed" to maintain an atmosphere of fairness.

Posted by kshaw at February 23, 2005 01:13 PM