February 24, 2005

Blackwell asks new trial on abuse charges

Baltimore Sun

By Julie Bykowicz
Sun Staff
Originally published February 24, 2005
Claiming "a circus-like atmosphere where it was impossible for the defendant to receive a fair trial," the attorney for a defrocked Baltimore priest convicted last week of molesting a former parishioner at St. Edward Roman Catholic Church in West Baltimore filed a sweeping motion yesterday seeking a new trial.

Maurice Blackwell, 58, was found guilty last Thursday of three counts of sexual child abuse for fondling and having sexual contact with Dontee Stokes, a one-time parish choirboy who later shot him. Blackwell could receive up to 45 years in prison when he is sentenced April 15.

A motion for a new trial is a routine legal maneuver after a conviction, and city Circuit Court judges say defense lawyers rarely prevail.

But the request in Blackwell's case has special significance because Circuit Judge Stuart R. Berger acknowledged during the trial that he had "failed" to maintain an atmosphere of fairness when two detectives mentioned other victims during their testimony, and later to television reporters.

Posted by kshaw at February 24, 2005 07:33 AM