TOWSON, Md. (WJZ) — Breach of trust. More fallout from the theft of Baltimore County police evidence. The state’s attorney has now had to drop a drug case and a trial in a murder case has been delayed.
Mike Hellgren explains the impact on these prosecutions.
Police charged a cadet with stealing that evidence, including drugs and cash from their evidence room. Early on, the state’s attorney believed no cases would be affected, but now that’s not the case.
The theft of Baltimore County police evidence from headquarters stunned the department and stung the chief. Particularly because one of his own is accused–a promising, young cadet–Nicholas Ishmael. He’s charged with stealing evidence from 18 cases.
Prosecutors believed it would not have a huge impact because drugs are often tested before they’re put into evidence. Those records, along with pictures of drugs, are taken at crime scenes.
“If defense counsel wants to introduce that into evidence, they can, because we know they were there,” said Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger.
But the state’s attorney has now dismissed charges against a man who forged prescriptions just days before his trial was scheduled to start because the drugs went missing. He recently spoke to WJZ about the affected cases.
“We are going to be making full disclosure to defense counsel. We will identify cases where we know things are missing,” said Shellenberger.
That includes from a murder at the Fairways Apartments in Towson. The trial for one of the men accused in the killing has been postponed.
“That money and the drugs were taken from the victim in that case,” said Chief James Johnson, Baltimore County Police.
Evidence thefts have happened at police departments around the country. But the chief doesn’t believe he has a major problem here.
Police performed an audit, and security inside the room includes a closed circuit TV camera system and supervisors on hand. Although, according to charging documents, that was not enough to stop Ishmael until he’d already smuggled thousands of pills into his parents’ home in Parkville.
“Make no mistake about it, I’m deeply troubled by these circumstances,” Chief Johnson said.
Ishmael has a court appearance on July 25. He is free right now on bond.
Police do believe Ishmael acted alone in the thefts.
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