04/12/2001

Judge must decide on new trial in old murder case
[Baltimore, MD]

April 11, 2001 (BALTIMORE) – A judge must decide whether to grant a new trial to a man who was convicted of murder during a robbery more than a quarter-century ago.

Prosecutors argue that there is no new evidence to show that Michael Austin is innocent and that everything put forward by his current lawyers was either rejected in earlier appeals or was not raised even though it was available.

Austin’s supporters now include the former assistant state’s attorney who prosecuted him and former Baltimore Mayor Kurt Schmoke. His case has been investigated by Centurion Ministries of Princeton, N.J., an organization that works to free the wrongly convicted.

Lawyers say that a key witness at Austin’s 1975 trial was presented as a college student when he was, in fact, a high school drop out with a history of arrests. They also point to a business card found in Austin’s wallet that was used as evidence at his trial. The card bore the written name, Horrace Herbert, allegedly his accomplice, but Herbert was acquitted at his own trial.

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