People who have not had personal experience with court cases or being charged with crimes may not realize one of the bedrock principals of the law: a person who is charged with a crime is considered to be innocent until proven guilty. Of course, most people in Baltimore, Maryland, are familiar with the concept in theory. The right to a trial of one’s peers as set forth in American law has been emulated by countless other democracies around the world.
However, in practice, this concept is not always self-evident. After all, why would prosecutors charge someone with a crime — particularly a violent crime such as murder — if they were not sure of his guilt? And why would the state of Maryland bring such a man to trial if it did not believe that a jury would convict him?
At least two men in Baltimore know that just because someone is charged with a crime, they are not guilty of that crime. This week, a 29-year-old man was acquitted of murder charge regarding a 2010 death in the city, while a 31-year-old man who had been charged in the case had his charges dropped by prosecutors. The case involved a 73-year-old man who was assaulted while walking home from work in April of that year; the man died of his injuries in July.
Before his death, the man said his attacker was named Bobby, and when he awoke from his coma he picked out a picture of the 31-year-old, whose name is Bobby, from a photo lineup. Prosecutors subsequently charged the 29-year-old man in the death as well. However, both men are now free thanks to the criminal justice system being allowed to run its course.
Source: The Baltimore Sun, “Man acquitted, charges dropped in murder of 73-year-old Hampden man,” Justin Fenton, Oct. 16, 2012
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