April 18, 2001 (BALTIMORE) – A hearing is scheduled in June for a man who claims he is innocent of the murder he was convicted of a quarter-century ago.
Michael Austin’s case has been investigated by Centurion Ministries, a New Jersey organization that works to free the wrongly convicted. He has won the support of former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke, and the prosecutors involved in his trial and the victim’s widow have also urged that his conviction be overturned.
Circuit Judge John Carroll Byrnes set the hearing for June 10. If he orders a new trial, State’s Attorney Patricia Jessamy can dismiss the charges or attempt another prosecution. Jessamy opposes the move for a new trial.
The victim, Roy Kellam, was a store security guard when he was killed during the robbery. Austin’s lawyers argue that a key prosecution witness, a store clerk, was presented as a clean-cut college student eager to be a good citizen when he was, in fact, a drug user with a criminal record. They also say that prosecutors wrongly told jurors that a business card found in Austin’s wallet bore the scribbled name of an accomplice and withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense.