Lawyers Argue Over Credibility of Absent Witness at Homicide Retrial

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Although a witness who identified a 45-year-old homicide defendant as a suspect did not physically appear, attorneys debated the trustworthiness of his testimony admitted from a previous trial.

Levar Attura Octavies Cooper is charged with first-degree murder, firearm use in a felony violent crime, having a handgun on his person, having a handgun in a vehicle on a public road and possessing a firearm with a felony conviction in connection to the murder of Larry Alvin Randall, Jr. 

On Nov. 9, in a closing argument before Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Martin P. Welch, the prosecution used testimony from a witness who allegedly loaned his car to Cooper on the day of the shooting. The prosecution was unable to find the witness, but presented his testimony from the previous trial instead. This witness knew Cooper from a long-standing family connection.

Though the witness admitted he was an addict and visited Baltimore frequently to get high, the prosecution said he was not on drugs during testimony and is now in recovery. They also argued the witness’ testimony should not be discounted by his addiction and his admission shows he’s taken responsibility for his actions.

Additionally, the prosecution noted that although some of the testimony from their witness was inconsistent, certain pieces never changed. He was always clear that he loaned Cooper his Mercedes and that Cooper had a gun when he returned the vehicle.

Video from a New City Mart convenience store and Bob’s Bar on the 1100 block of Washington Boulevard showed a suspect wearing all black get out of a Mercedes, shoot 43-year-old Randall, stand over him and shoot him again.

A detective from the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) reviewed video footage from the bar a few weeks prior to the shooting and identified Cooper as a patron. More recent footage showed him apparently looking for someone and leaving after three minutes. The prosecution argued Cooper was looking for Randall but couldn’t find him.

The prosecution also used cell phone tracking data to place Cooper in the general area of the shooting at the time of the crime.

Michael Tomko, who represented Cooper, questioned the credibility of the missing witness because he made several apparently contradictory statements to police. When questioned he said, “I must have been pretty damn high.”

Though the prosecution objected to this question, Tomko asked the court, “What did [the witness] do today? He hid.” Judge Welch sustained this objection, but Tomko went on to argue that the witness was afraid the truth would come out.

Cooper’s fingerprint was allegedly found on the gas cap of the Mercedes, but Tomko argued this didn’t prove he was the murderer. Tomko stated that because the suspect closed the car door, Cooper’s prints should have been found there if he was guilty.

According to court documents, on May 10, 2021, a BPD officer dispatched for a shooting incident found Randall suffering from fatal gunshot wounds in the doorway of Bob’s Bar. 

Witnesses saw a suspect pull up in a 2015 black Mercedes and exit the vehicle with a semi-automatic handgun. The suspect then approached Randall and shot him multiple times before fleeing the area in the same vehicle. 

Cooper’s previous trial for Randall’s murder ended in a mistrial

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