12-13-2007, 09:01 PM #1
Jurors find overlooked evidence in coat
A convicted robber has won a new trial in Frederick, Md., after jurors found more than $1,300 in the pocket of a coat he allegedly wore while robbing several businesses at gunpoint.
The money roll, a rubber glove and a bandage apparently went unnoticed by police, prosecutors and the defense until jurors detected them while examining the garment during deliberations and sent a note to the judge.
"It was one of the weirdest experiences I can ever remember being involved in," said Christine Bowersox, one of the jurors in the trial of Moses M. Streete. "You would think with all the law enforcement people that had been involved with the case that everything would have been gone over with a fine-toothed comb Ã¢â‚¬â€ and then that fine-toothed comb would have had another fine-toothed comb going over it."
Frederick County State's Attorney J. Charles Smith said Thursday that Assistant State's Attorney Deborah Kemp had checked the coat pockets before the trial and found no money. He said it must have been in hidden pockets or in holes in the pockets of the charcoal gray parka.
Defense attorney Scott L. Rolle said he had seen the coat before the trial but hadn't gone through the pockets. He said though, that Kemp told him in court, after the jury sent its note, that she had found a pill in the coat and put it back. The pill and a pillbox were also found by the jurors.
Rolle, a former prosecutor, said that if he were Kemp, "I definitely would have said to the police, 'I found something in this coat.'"
Kemp didn't return a telephone call to her office.
Gregory Shipley, a spokesman for the Maryland State Police, which had custody of the coat, declined to comment because a new trial is pending.
Bowersox said the items were in different pockets of the many-pocketed parka. She said that after the shocked jury forewoman found the glove and bandage, she sent a note to the judge asking whether the jury could consider evidence that hadn't been introduced. The jurors found the cash and pillbox after receiving the judge's negative response, Bowersox said.
The cash and glove, had they been offered as evidence, would have helped the state more than Streete because his defense relied partly on the absence of any cash or fingerprints.
The jury convicted Streete, 25, of New York City, of 13 counts including armed robbery and handgun violations. He was acquitted on 15 other counts and cannot be retried for those. Bowersox said the jury acquitted him on any counts linked to the coat.
The trial was held in October; Circuit Judge Theresa M. Adams granted the defense motion for a new trial Wednesday at what was to have been Streete's sentencing hearing. She ordered him held without bail.
Rolle said the next step in the case will be a fight over admissibility of the new evidence.
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