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Double jeopardy at issue in indictment of Baltimore man

Criminal defense cases sometimes follow a winding road rather than a straight one. That certainly seems to be true of a Baltimore criminal case against a man accused of murdering a North Carolina teenager back in 2010. The man’s connection to the teen was reportedly through her older half-sister, whom he dated for ten years. According to sources, the teen went missing while on a visit to her half-sister in Northwest Baltimore in December 2010. Her body was discovered four months later in the Susquehanna River.

The man’s first trial, held in 2013, resulted in acquittal of a second-degree murder charge and conviction of second-degree murder, but that verdict was overturned and a mistrial declared because prosecutors chose to withhold evidence calling into question the credibility of a key witness for the state. Prosecutors later obtained a grand jury indictment of the suspect, but a judge refused to sign an arrest warrant, a move commentators have said is significant.

The prosecutors handling the case have been criticized for violating the man’s constitutional right to be free from double jeopardy. Prosecutors in the case, for their part, are arguing that the new charges do not constitute double jeopardy since the acquittal was invalid in the first place. All of this will have to be sorted out, of course, and the outcome will be awaited with anticipation.

The case is a reminder of, among other things, the potential messiness of the criminal process and the need to work with an experienced advocate who know how to protect the rights of a defendant. Whether questions arise regarding fact, law or the criminal process itself, building a thorough defense case with an experienced attorney gives a defendant the best chance of achieving a favorable outcome. 

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