Trial begins for 19-year-old accused of 2023 murder

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On July 9, defense attorneys delivered opening statements in the trial of the 19-year-old accused of fatally shooting a man on Jan. 26, 2023, before Baltimore County District Court Judge Timothy J. Doory.

Parris Harris is charged with two counts of first-degree murder, one count of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, wanton endangerment, use of a firearm in a crime of violence, possession of a firearm as a minor and possession of a handgun in connection with the incident in the 3400 block of Spelman Road.

During opening statements, the prosecution explained that the victim, 27-year-old Desmond Gardner, a known drug dealer, was on his way to visit his daughter when he was killed. The prosecution said the incident involved three gunmen.

Six days after the murder, two Baltimore Police Department detectives found an abandoned car that led them to Harris, the prosecutor said.

Harris’ suspicious behavior caught the attention of detectives, and a search of the car revealed a firearm that showed signs of having been recently fired, the prosecutor continued.

The prosecution presented a photo of three masked suspects, claiming that one of them had the same cellphone as Harris. Cellphone records also indicated that Harris was in the vicinity of the crime scene shortly before the incident, although the phone had been turned off 15 minutes before the crime.

Defense attorney Ronald Harris argued that the prosecution had no direct evidence linking the defendant to the shooting, for example by failing to mention DNA from multiple people found on the gun.

“They are asking you to assume that Mr. Harris is guilty,” the defense attorney said, urging the jury to reach the correct verdict — acquitting his client.

The examination of witnesses was scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

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