Ivan Bates makes bold prediction on Baltimore’s drop in homicides

Baltimore City State’s Attorney Ivan Bates made a bold prediction, suggesting the city’s homicide rate could drop below 200 this year.

Bates spoke at a budget hearing Thursday morning before the Baltimore City Council Ways and Means Committee, citing some encouraging numbers showing declines in violent crime and increases in prosecutions. Bates said the current pacing for homicide in 2024 is 181.

“One is too many, but to see now that the hard work is starting to pay off,” Bates said.

The last time Baltimore City recorded less than 200 homicides was in 2011. Bates credited partnerships, innovative violence reduction strategies and his office’s “get tough” approach to crime.

“We are the enforcers. We are the accountability. We are saying clearly, ‘If you are going to be a felon and you are carrying an illegal handgun,’ I said, ‘bring a toothbrush.’ That is not something I just said. It is something that we meant,” Bates said.

Bates supported his bold prediction with stats, saying from 2022 to 2023, his office took 390 violent offenders off the street, there were fewer repeat offenders because first-time offenders were sentenced to jail time, homicide convictions increased by 38%, and the transfer of firearm cases to federal officials increased by 26%.

Source: WBAL

Holes punched into memorial to Key Bridge collapse victims

The memorial to the victims who died in the collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge was vandalized.

The artist behind the memorial on Fort Armistead Road told 11 News that five of the seven panels of the mural had large holes punched in them Friday night. The memorial’s creators are not sure how many people were involved, but a report with police has been filed.

Source: WBAL

City police say a fetus was found on a MTA bus on Saturday afternoon

Baltimore City police and MTA police responded to a report of a fetus found on a MTA bus on Saturday afternoon.

City police say they responded to the 2500 block of Kirk Avenue on Saturday for the report of a MTA bus driver saying a fetus had been found on the seat of the bus.

Officials say that no further information is available at this time.

Trump found guilty on all 34 counts in hush-money trial

A New York jury has found Donald Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts of falsifying business records — the first time a former U.S. president has been convicted of a crime. The verdict was read in the Manhattan courtroom where Trump has been on trial since April 15. He had pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts of falsifying business records related to a hush money payment made by his former lawyer Michael Cohen to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential election. Trump looked down with his eyes narrowed as the jury foreperson read the word “guilty” to each count.

The jury reached its verdict after 9.5 hours of deliberations, which began Wednesday. The historic conviction comes as Trump is the presumptive Republican nominee for president. The judge thanked the jurors for their service in the weeks-long trial. “You gave this matter the attention it deserved, and I want to thank you for that,” Judge Juan Merchan told them. Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche made a motion for acquittal after the jury left the room, which the judge denied. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the jury in his closing arguments earlier this week that “the law is the law and it applies to everyone equally. There is no special standard for this defendant.” “You, the jury, have the ability to hold the defendant accountable,” Steinglass said.

Judge denies request to restrict Trump statements about law enforcement in classified records case

The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s classified documents case in Florida on Tuesday denied prosecutors’ request to bar the former president from making public statements that could endanger law enforcement agents participating in the prosecution.

Prosecutors had told U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon that the restriction was necessary to protect law enforcement from potential threats and harassment after the presumptive Republican presidential nominee baselessly claimed that the Biden administration wanted to kill him during a search of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, nearly two years ago.

Cannon chided prosecutors in her order denying their request, saying they didn’t give defense lawyers adequate time to discuss the matter before it was filed Friday evening. The judge warned prosecutors that failing to comply with court requirements in the future may lead to sanctions. She denied the request without prejudice, meaning prosecutors could file it again.

A spokesperson for special counsel Jack Smith’s team declined to comment Tuesday.

The judge’s decision came as Trump’s lawyers were delivering their closing argument at trial in another criminal case he’s facing in New York stemming from a hush money payment to a porn actor during the 2016 presidential campaign.

It’s the latest example of bitterness between Cannon, who was nominated to the bench by Trump, and prosecutors who have accused the former president of illegally hoarding at his Mar-a-Lago estate classified documents that he took with him after he left the White House in 2021 and then obstructing the FBI’s efforts to get them back. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied wrongdoing.

Cannon has chided prosecutors both in hearings and in court papers over a number of matters, including telling Smith’s team during one hearing that it was “wasting the court’s time.” Prosecutors have also signaled mounting frustration with Cannon’s rulings, saying in one recent court filing that a request from the judge was based on a “fundamentally flawed legal premise.”

Prosecutors’ request followed a distorted claim by Trump last week that the FBI agents who searched his Mar-a-Lago estate in August 2022 were “authorized to shoot me” and were “locked & loaded ready to take me out & put my family in danger.”

Trump was referring to the disclosure in a court document that the FBI, during the search followed a standard use-of-force policy that prohibits the use of deadly force except when the officer conducting the search has a reasonable belief that the “subject of such force poses an imminent danger of death or serious physical injury to the officer or to another person.”

The Justice Department policy is routine and meant to limit, rather than encourage, the use of force during searches. Prosecutors noted that the search of the Florida property was intentionally conducted when Trump and his family were out of state and was coordinated in advance with the U.S. Secret Service. No force was used.

Bill Walton, Hall of Fame player who became a star broadcaster, dies at 71

Basketball legend Bill Walton, who led the UCLA Bruins to two national titles before winning two championships during his NBA career, has died at the age of 71 after a prolonged battle with cancer.

Walton died Monday while surrounded by his loved ones, his family said in a statement released by the NBA.

“Bill Walton was truly one of a kind,” NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

He was the NBA’s MVP in the 1977-78 season and a member of the league’s 50th and 75th anniversary teams. That all followed a college career in which he was a two-time champion at UCLA and a three-time national player of the year under iconic coach John Wooden.

Nicki Minaj’s England concert postponed after rapper was detained by Dutch authorities

Nicki Minaj’s concert in Manchester scheduled for Saturday night was postponed after police in the Netherlands discovered marijuana in her bags as she was preparing to leave the country.

Promoter Live Nation said the performance will be rescheduled and tickets will be honored.

“Despite Nicki’s best efforts to explore every possible avenue to make tonight’s show happen, the events of today have made it impossible,” the promoter said in a statement. “We are deeply disappointed by the inconvenience this has caused.”

Minaj tweeted earlier Saturday that she was stopped at the Amsterdam airport as she was about to board a plane for the concert in Manchester. Police told her they found marijuana in her bags, and it would have to be weighed, she tweeted. Cannabis is illegal in the Netherlands, but it is tolerated for recreational use.

Federal judge sentences Marilyn Mosby to home detention, supervised release, community service

Mosby’s sentence includes 12 months of home confinement, 100 hours of community service and three years of supervised release.

After the sentencing hearing, Mosby hugged her supporters, some of whom applauded when the judge announced the sentence.

“I’m just so incredibly grateful,” Mosby told dozens of supporters outside the courthouse. “This is not over, but God was here today.”

Mosby was convicted of lying about her finances to make early withdrawals from retirement funds during the COVID-19 pandemic, and fraudulently claiming that her own $5,000 was a gift from her then-husband as she closed on a Florida condominium.

City Councilman Eric Costello concedes Baltimore primary race

Baltimore City Councilman Eric Costello has conceded in the 11th District primary race. The incumbent Democrat issued a statement on social media saying he did not have enough votes to win re-election and he called his opponent, Zac Blanchard, to concede and wish him well.

Meanwhile, two other city races remain close.

In the 8th District, Paris Gray continues to lead Bilal Ali and in the 12th District, Jermaine Jones maintains a lead over incumbent Councilman Robert Stokes, Sr.

Uvalde families sue makers of AR-15, ‘Call of Duty,’ Meta over mass shooting

Families of the Uvalde victims have filed a lawsuit against Daniel Defense, the makers of the AR-15 assault rifle, and Activision, the publisher of the first-person shooter video game series “Call of Duty,” over what they claim was their role in promoting the gun used in the shooting.

The suit alleges the companies partnered to market the weapon to underage boys in the games.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.