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Jurors begin deliberations in Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force trial; will resume Monday

Justin Fenton, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in News & Features

BALTIMORE -- Jurors in the federal trial of two former members of the Baltimore Police Gun Trace Task Force were sent home for the weekend after deliberating for about four hours, and will resume Monday.

In closing arguments Thursday, the defense attorney for Detective Marcus Taylor said authorities went "to the depths of the criminal underworld" to make their case that the officers were part of a conspiracy to rob citizens using the cover of their badges.

Attorney Jenifer Wicks called the government's case "deplorable" and "nauseating," and said jurors should question the motives and backgrounds of the witnesses, who included convicted police officers testifying against their former colleagues and drug dealers given immunity to outline being robbed of cash and narcotics.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Leo Wise said the government had not chosen the victims in the case.

"They were chosen by these men," he said, pointing at Taylor and co-defendant Daniel Hersl. Wise said the officers hoped no one would listen to the victims and added that the victims' conduct was not on trial.

Before handing off the case for jurors to consider, prosecutors played a recording from a device surreptitiously placed inside a police vehicle by the FBI. On it, the officers discussed what to do after chasing a vehicle that got into a bad crash. They chose not to render aid.

 

"Dude's unconscious, he's ain't saying s---," Taylor says.

Hersl says the officers should alter their time sheets to show they weren't working at the time of the crash, and laughs: "Hey, I was in the car just driving home."

"These men were supposed to be sentinels guarding this city from people that would break the law," Wise told jurors. "Instead, these men became hunters."

Federal prosecutors called more than 30 witnesses during the trial, including four officers who have admitted their roles in brazen robberies the squad carried out. Six members of the task force have pleaded guilty to federal charges that include racketeering, robbery and firearms violations.

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