Attorneys at Odds Over Opening Statements for Defendant Accused of Shooting at Five Baltimore Police Officers

Baltimore Courthouse

Controversy was at the center of opening statements in the trial of 41-year-old defendant Jermaine Jeter on Sept. 6 as the prosecution repeatedly objected to defense counsel’s argument before the jury.

Jeter is currently charged with the attempted murder of five Baltimore Police Department (BPD) officers on Nov. 26, 2021, after an alleged standoff at his ex-girlfriend’s home on the 2500 block of Loyola Northway. His jury trial began Wednesday morning before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Paul E. Alpert.

Brandon Taylor is representing Jeter alongside attorney Dwayne Hardware.

The prosecutor provided the jury with little background on the incident that unfolded that Thanksgiving weekend except to say that officers with BPD’s Warrant Apprehension Task Force (WATF) went to the residence to serve Jeter an arrest warrant. Jeter allegedly fired a gun at the officers from the home’s second-story window, but no injuries were reported.

“There’s no question that he did this,” the prosecutor said. “The question is culpability.”

Within the first 30 seconds of Taylor’s opening statement, the prosecutor declared her first objection when Taylor told the jury how his client “lived in fear for his life.” Similar objections continued throughout Taylor’s entire statement, with counsel approaching Judge Alpert multiple times for private discussions.

Judge Alpert reminded the jury that opening statements were not evidence, but rather “a preview of coming attractions.”

Taylor continued his opening, telling jurors there were “rumors circulating in the streets” that linked Jeter to “things he had no part in.” The defendant was allegedly facing threats and had a bounty on his head, the defense attorney said, and went to stay with an ex-girlfriend who lived on Loyola Northway. Jeter’s ex soon feared for her own safety, went to her friend’s home and called police to inform them of the defendant’s situation.

Around 6:40 p.m. on Nov. 26, 2021, the defense attorney explained that Jeter became worried for his ex, having not heard from her. Jeter was in an upstairs bedroom when he heard a dog barking in the backyard and then saw a figure with a gun “creeping” in the backyard.

After Jeter hid in a closet with a gun in hand, he heard voices coming from a rattling door. When the voices didn’t respond to him, Jeter fired what Taylor described as “three warning shots” before police announced their presence.

“What Mr. Jeter didn’t know was they had an arrest warrant,” Taylor said, adding that BPD used “military tactics” and gathered in full armored gear with armored trucks after the gunfire.

During the standoff, Taylor said, Jeter requested to talk to the police over the phone and asked for his family. Once family arrived, Jeter went outside with “no problem,” the defense attorney concluded.

Jeter is facing five counts each of attempted first and second-degree murder, first and second-degree assault, firearm use in a felony or violent crime and reckless endangerment as well as single counts of possessing an unregistered rifle/shotgun, possessing a rifle/shotgun with a felony conviction, knowingly altering a firearm’s ID number, illegal possession of ammunition and carrying a rifle in Baltimore City.

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