Opening Statements Begin in Emotional Murder Trial for Four Co-Defendants

Baltimore Courthouse

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The Baltimore City Circuit courtroom was busy, with spectators from both sides, as four co-defendants, William ThorntonShamar JerryAnthony Clark, and James Dunbar, listened to opening statements in their jury trial. 

“Twelve gunshot wounds, seven shell casings, five guns, four defendants, two crime scenes, and one victim,” said the prosecutor on Nov. 21. 

The four men were each charged with first-degree murder, using a firearm in a felony violent crime, three counts of having a handgun in a vehicle on a public road, unlawful possession of an assault weapon, and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder

Thornton, 29, and Dunbar, 21, were also charged with illegally possessing a regulated firearm. 

Thornton, Dunbar, and Clark, 22, were charged with conspiracy to use a firearm in a felony violent crime, and Clark was charged with having a handgun on his person.

Clark, Dunbar, and Jerry, 22, each face one count of illegally possessing a firearm as a minor. 

The victim, 21-year-old Donnell Brockington, was shot multiple times on the 2600 block of McElderry Street on Nov. 13, 2019. 

Baltimore City Circuit Court Judge Dana Middleton began the trial by acknowledging the emotional and difficult nature of the case to the jury and instructed spectators to step outside the courtroom if they needed a moment to compose themselves.

The prosecutors called their first witness, a lead detective, to the stand. The investigating detective told the jury about six suspects captured on video pursuing Brockington and shooting him execution-style on the sidewalk. 

Video clips and CCTV footage from the area were shown to the jury, despite multiple objections from attorney Donald Wright and Roland Brown, representing Clark and Dunbar, respectively. 

According to the prosecutors, police discovered a gold Infiniti model car on a nearby street, resulting in a high-speed chase that culminated in Thornton crashing the vehicle into a tree. The car was allegedly occupied by at least four of the six suspects, who were promptly arrested at the scene. 

Responding law enforcement recovered multiple bullet casings from the 2600 McElderry crime scene and four firearms from the vehicle, including a rifle. 

John E. Cox, who is representing Thornton, told the jury that the state’s case is based on circumstantial evidence. He claimed that the prosecutors charged his client and his co-defendants with conspiracy because they couldn’t prove who fired the weapons. He also posited that there were three shooters, not six. During his opening, Jerry’s attorney Brandon Patterson echoed the same points, stating that the case against his client was based on assumptions that did not meet the state’s burden of proof. 

Jurors took notes as video evidence of gunshots being fired was seen from different angles in the CCTV footage. The lead detective testified that he saw muzzle flashes from the weapons being fired when he reviewed the crime scene video evidence. 

Brockington, who was shot on the ground by the suspects, was later transported to Johns Hopkins, where he later died.  

The trial is set to resume Tues. Nov. 22 before Judge Middleton. 

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