A man who forged a police document and was recorded arranging payments to witnesses in a successful effort to get his murder conviction overturned was gunned down last week in Northeast Baltimore, becoming the 200th person killed in the city this year.
Tony DeWitt had been convicted by a jury for the 2002 killing of 16-year-old Sherene Moore on July 5, 2002 in the 1700 block of Montpelier Street, but had been free since 2015.
DeWitt was gunned down on Friday evening, one block away in the 1600 block of Montpelier Street.
Three years after he was freed, DeWitt filed a federal civil lawsuit against the homicide detectives in his case, saying they had withheld exculpatory evidence. He said he had received, through a public information act request, a document showing that the detective in his case interviewed a man at the crime scene who had identified someone else as the gunman. Its authenticity went unchallenged by city prosecutors, and his conviction was overturned by a judge.
But lawyers for the city uncovered that he had forged the document: he had taken a blank form received through the records request and filled in the information. He had misspelled homicide as “homocide,” and the detective’s supposed signature looks nothing like the detective’s real signature.
They also listened to his recorded phone calls from jail and found conversations in which DeWitt could be heard arranging to bribe the surviving shooting victim, Maurice Booker, and Booker’s brother, the city said in court filings. In another call, he discussed bribing the witness listed on the forged document, Tyrell Curtis, and coaching him for his testimony, the filing alleged.
“I already, I prepped him, I prepped him. But I’m gonna, I’m gonna do it again, you know what I mean when it get closer, you feel me?” a woman talking with DeWitt said on one recorded call, according to the city’s filing. She said she had been “keeping tight contact with Tyrell,” according to transcripts of the conversations included in the court filing.
“Such brazen actions make a mockery of the truth-seeking objectives of the judicial system and weaken its credibility as an institution deserving of public trust,” U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow ruled in March 2021 in dismissing the lawsuit. “In one fell swoop Plaintiff’s actions undermined the public confidence in the integrity of law enforcement and the competence of state and federal courts.”
Chasanow ordered DeWitt to pay $167,310 in lawyers’ fees.
The Baltimore State’s Attorney’s Office, meanwhile, never took any action on DeWitt’s criminal case despite releasing him.
Police said officers responded to a ShotSpotter alert for 13 rounds fired around 7:30 p.m. Friday night, and found DeWitt facedown on the sidewalk suffering from multiple gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. His vehicle was nearby and running.
Two more people were also fatally shot over the weekend, pushing the number of victims to 202. At this time last year, there were 191 homicide victims, an increase of 6%. Nonfatal shootings are up 10% over the same time last year.