Case in which 5 were shot is 'legally insufficient,' says city prosecutor's officeA Baltimore soldier charged with shooting five people in a gang-related dispute last month could be freed from an Oklahoma jail today after city prosecutors drop the case, the state's attorney's office said this morning.
Margaret T. Burns, a spokeswoman for the city prosecutor's office, said the case against Jerrell Hill is "legally insufficient." Hill is being held in a county detention center near Fort Sill.
Burns also said that authorities are withdrawing an extradition request for Hill, 18, who was charged this week with attempted murder in a warrant.
The attack occurred Sept. 20 in East Baltimore's Barclay neighborhood when police said two men approached a group on the street and one fired at least twice with a shotgun loaded with birdshot -- tiny metal pellets that, when discharged from a shotgun, can spray a wide area.
Police said at least three of the five victims who were shot have ties to a rival gang known as the Young Gorilla Family, which claims the Barclay neighborhood. Law enforcement officials believe the Young Gorilla Family and Bloods gang members have been responsible for a string of shootings and homicides in Barclay during the past year.
A police spokesman said investigators believe that the shooting suspect is a member of a local Bloods group known as the Pasadena Denver Lane gang. Hill's parents have said their son was not responsible for the attack and said they had no knowledge of his involvement in any violent gangs.
Hill's parents said they took their son to BWI Marshall Airport for an 11 a.m. American Airlines flight Sept. 11 and watched him pass through the security checkpoint, "and he was supposed to report back to base," Robert Hill said.
But earlier this week, Army officials said they could not publicly disclose when Hill reported to the base. Police also said they had witnesses who identified Hill as the suspected shooter.
Sterling Clifford, a city police spokesman, said this morning that new questions have come up about the case and where Hill was at the time of the shooting. Clifford said evidence does support that Hill flew to Oklahoma on Sept. 11 but that he did not report to Fort Sill until Sept. 21, a day after the shootings in East Baltimore.
Sterling said that Hill remains a "person of interest" and that the investigation is open and continuing.
Robert Hill said his son dropped out of one of the small schools at the former Northern High School in 10th grade but completed a security trades program at Woodstock Job Corps Center. Jerrell Hill, the younger of two children, earned his GED in March and enlisted in April because "he decided he wanted to get off the streets and do something with his life," his father said.
He joined the Army on April 25 and was a private assigned to 1st Battalion, 22nd Field Artillery at Fort Sill, according to military officials. He had been assigned to the artillery unit last month, officials said.
Oct 19, 2007 9:20 am US/Eastern
Evidence Clears Md. Soldier Of Shootingby Dennis Edwards BALTIMORE (WJZ) ― Charges are dropped against soldier Jerrell Hill after indisputable evidence showed he left town before a Baltimore shooting.Charges are dropped against soldier Jerrell Hill after indisputable evidence showed he left town before a Baltimore shooting.
A new twist in the case of a Maryland soldier accused in a shooting. The judge asked that the charges be dismissed Thursday.
Dennis Edwards reports the charges are dropped after indisputable evidence showed Jerrell Hill left town before the shooting.
In spite of the evidence, investigators aren't convinced.
Baltimore Police got an attempted murder warrant for Jerrell Hill after a witness says he shot five people with a shot gun full of bird pellets in the 5600 block of Barclay St. But it turns out Hill had flown back to his base assignment at Fort Sill, Okla. 9 days earlier.
"This afternoon a prosecutor in the State's Attorney's office went to a judge and requested that the arrest warrant be quashed and the case be dismissed," said Margaret Burns of the Baltimore State's Attorney's Office.
Dropping the charges means Hill will be released from military custody to return to duty.
It's good, but not unexpected news for the 18-year-old's father, mother and girlfriend.
"I really wasn't worried. I knew where he was at all times. I was 100 percent sure that this was gonna break down," said Jerrell's father Robert Hill.
"The investigator who got the information that he wasn't there until Sept. 21. Where did you get that information from? Why did my son's name come from in the first place, and how did it go this far," said Jerrell's mother Quintina Hill.
But police tell Eyewitness News their investigation isn't over yet. They say Hill could still face charges.
They're still looking into what they call contradictory evidence about Hill's whereabouts between Sept. 11 and 21.
"If that's the case, if he's not responsible for it, obviously we don't want him to spend any more time in custody than he has already. And if he is the suspect, if it comes back to him, then we'll go get him again," said Sterling Clifford of the Baltimore City Police.
Hill's parents say there's no doubt he was at Fort Sill at the time of the shooting and before that. The Hill family says there is ample documentation because military personnel must sign in and out of work assignments.
Now the family is looking into legal options for totally clearing his name.
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