Prosecutors: Federal officer killed brother in argument

… Defendant says he shot into darkness at who he thought were burglars …

By Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun

7:36 PM EST, January 28, 2011

They met through a chance encounter as youths in Pittsburgh, brothers born to different mothers who had grown up in the same neighborhood with no knowledge of the other.

Curtis Anthony Warren would go on to become a military veteran and federal law enforcement officer, while Curtis Anthony Pounds struggled to stay out of trouble. When they crossed paths years later, Warren would encourage his brother to move into one of his rental properties in Baltimore so he could help him straighten out his life.

On April 5, 2009, Warren fatally shot Pounds.

At trial this week, Warren maintained that the shooting was a tragic mistake. Sleeping in the basement of the Northeast Baltimore home where Pounds, 31, rented a room, Warren said he was awakened by men he believed to be burglars.

The 38-year-old investigator for the Department of Veterans Affairs said he fired a 9 mm handgun three times into the darkness at a shadowy figure he saw coming toward him, then flipped on the light to discover his brother lying in a pool of blood.

But police and prosecutors don’t believe Warren’s story. Another tenant in the home testified that he witnessed Warren — whom he called “Big Curtis” — argue with Pounds — “Little Curtis” — before hearing gunshots. Prosecutors are seeking a first-degree murder conviction.

“When the defendant first pulled the gun, what did the victim do?” asked prosecutor Tonya LaPolla Wednesday.

“Little Curtis put his hands in the sky like this,” testified tenant Damon Dorsey, 21, raising both arms.

“What happened then?”

“Big Curtis shot him,” Dorsey said.

There is evidence that suggests Warren had grown tired of his brother’s antics. In the months before the shooting, Warren filed criminal charges against Pounds, accusing him of breaking into the rental property in the 4700 block of Homesdale Ave. on three occasions.

“I fear this situation and circumstances will have a negative impact on my job and current top-secret” clearance, he wrote in court papers. “I am fearful of coming home and finding someone in my bedroom again. I [am] afraid of his friends and them harming my family.”

“This is a case about power, and the abuse of power,” LaPolla told jurors in opening statements.

Warren testified on his own behalf Friday afternoon, saying that he held no ill will toward his brother.

“I live with this tragedy every day. When I brought him here, I was trying to give him a new life,” Warren said. “In his particular case, I feel like I’m the victim. He’s dead over something I caused.”

Warren’s home, in the 4800 block of Aberdeen Ave., was around the corner from the rental property he owned in the Parkside community of Northeast Baltimore, where he said he kept a room in the basement as a refuge to study and sew.

Dorsey and his girlfriend had not paid rent, and when Warren visited the home to collect, he saw that Dorsey’s door was open. He took a video game console, cell phones and a laptop and put them in a bag to hold as collateral. As far as he knew, he said, Pounds had found another place to live and hadn’t come around the property in weeks.

Sensing that Dorsey was avoiding him, he decided to stay the night in the room in the basement. He took his personal handgun with him for safety as he walked through the neighborhood, he said.

Dorsey claimed in testimony that his room was broken into, and said that he and Pounds went into the basement to investigate a blown fuse. There, he said, Pounds confronted Warren about taking Dorsey’s belongings, which escalated into an argument.

“The things I heard [from Warren] were, ‘I’m tired of this,’ ” Dorsey testified.

After hearing gunshots, Dorsey said that he ran upstairs and called 911. Warren’s defense attorney, Gary E. Proctor, grilled Dorsey on why he didn’t mention the shooting until 66 seconds into that 911 call, and questioned other inconsistencies in his description of the incident such as the type of weapon used and how Warren was dressed.

Warren, meanwhile, said that the lights were off during the shooting and that he was afraid for his life.

After the shooting, he alerted another tenant. He placed the loaded handgun under a pillow as he waited for police because “police in Baltimore kill people with guns,” he said.

Detective Ray Bennett, fighting the flu, testified that Warren was “calm, collected” during his interview at police headquarters.

Warren has been out on bail since the April 2009 arrest, and supervisors wrote letters to the court affirming his character. He received a commendation for his work in a ground surveillance radar unit in the Sunni Triangle, and has worked as a youth counselor in Pittsburgh and a correctional officer in Maryland.

“I’m a mentor,” Warren testified as a sobbing relative had to be escorted from the courtroom. “I love my brother.”

Closing arguments are expected Monday.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

Copyright © 2011, The Baltimore Sun

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