Information provided to homicide detective not permissible in officer’s June trial, judge rules
By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun
7:31 PM EDT, April 12, 2013
Baltimore County prosecutors will not be allowed to use information provided by James D. Laboard’s lawyer on the night that the off-duty police officer allegedly killed a Randallstown teenager, a judge ruled Friday.
During a criminal motions hearing, Circuit Judge Jan Marshall Alexander ruled that the lawyer’s decision to talk to detectives violated attorney-client confidentiality. Prosecutors said the ruling would have little effect on the case.
Laboard, a Baltimore County police officer, is charged with two counts of manslaughter in the death of 17-year-old Christopher Brown.
Laboard has since gotten a new lawyer, and the court did not make public the information that his initial attorney provided after Brown’s death June 13.
Police said Laboard chased Brown, a Randallstown High School student, after a group of youths threw a rock at the front door of the officer’s home on Susanna Road in Randallstown. Laboard caught up to the teen and killed him during an altercation several blocks away, police said.
The state medical examiner later ruled the teen’s death homicide by asphyxiation. Laboard was trying to resuscitate Brown when police got to the scene.
Laboard’s initial attorney, Michael Davey, testified Friday that he did not inform Laboard that information the officer told him would later be relayed to homicide Detective Alvin Barton, the lead investigator on the case.
Ezra S. Gollogly, Laboard’s new lawyer, said Laboard never consented to Davey’s providing Barton with that information.
“It’s clear that Mr. Davey never explained the issues,” Gollogly said.
When questioned by Deputy State’s Attorney Robin Coffin, Barton testified he clearly was taking notes during the walk-through examination of the crime scene with Davey and that Davey did not say the information was off the record. He said information obtained during walk-throughs is commonly included in police reports.
Coffin said after the hearing that she is “not at all concerned” about the case but declined to comment further, citing the coming trial, which is scheduled for June 17.
Davey testified that he arrived at Laboard’s home on the night of Brown’s death and spoke with his client and did a walk-through of the crime scene.
Neither Davey nor his attorney, Shaun F. Owens, returned calls seeking comment Friday afternoon.
During the same hearing, Alexander declined a defense motion to throw out a voluntary manslaughter charge. That count carries a maximum of 10 years in prison, as does a separate involuntary manslaughter charge. He cannot be convicted of both.
Alexander said it would be “premature for the court to exclude a charge brought by a grand jury.”
Laboard, an officer attached to the Woodlawn Precinct, joined the county police in 2002.