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Prosecution rests case against Harris in Officer Caprio murder trial

Posted at 3:41 PM, Apr 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-30 09:19:07-04

TOWSON, Md. — Monday the State rested its case against a teen charged with killing a Baltimore County Police Officer by running her over following a confrontation in a Perry Hall cul-de-sac.

The trial of Dawnta Harris, the Baltimore City teen who was 16 years old when he is accused of driving a stolen Jeep at Officer Amy Caprio as she confronted him while following up on reports of local burglaries and a suspicious car in the area.

In recently released body camera video that has played a key role in the case, Caprio appears to pursue the stolen Jeep into a cul-de-sac, at which point the driver had no where else to go as Caprio stood near the rear of her cruiser, largely blocking the Jeep’s exit path. Caprio can be heard shouting at the driver to get out of the car as her weapon is drawn and pointed towards the windshield. The driver's door opens briefly, before the Jeep accelerates and hits Caprio as she gets one gun shot off. The video captures the violent collision, later showing a perspective resting on the pavement. What sounds like the labored breathing and moans of Caprio can be heard as neighbors come to aid her. What appears to be blood can be seen pooling on the pavement.

READ MORE: Events leading to Baltimore County Police Officer's death disputed in opening arguments of murder trial

During five days of the trial, prosecutors largely tried to tie Harris to the three other burglary suspects who were also charged in Caprio’s death under Maryland’s felony murder statute. They presented evidence of Harris’ fingerprints being found on the Jeep, as well as cellphone records that showed he was in the area of the burglaries.

READ MORE: Fingerprint expert, medical examiner testiy at trial for teen charged in Officer Amy Caprio's death

Harris’ defense routinely challenged those assertions, saying the teen did not know about the other crimes, and that the death of Caprio was a tragic accident.

READ MORE: Perry Hall residents, Police recount burglaries prior to Officer Caprio's death

“They [prosecutors] clearly indicate that they don’t have any evidence that he was in these houses, that he was burglarizing these buildings,” said Warren Brown, one of Harris’ attorney’s. “Their whole position is that he was the getaway driver; he is the lookout, and that is a sinister, cynical view of it.”

Monday, Brown finished his cross examination of the lead Baltimore County Police detective on the case, at which point the state rested its case. The lead investigator was recalled by defense for further questioning about the his interrogation of Harris. Harris did not take the stand.

Harris’ defense team pushed forth a motion for acquittal on the theft charges he faced in regards to the stealing of the Jeep prior to Caprio’s death, as well as the fourth-degree burglar charges for stealing packages, as they say evidence was not presented that Harris was responsible or involved in either. Those motions were denied as the judge called the alleged crimes conspiratorial acts in which all four defendants are equally culpable.

Brown and co-counsel J. Wyndal Gordon contend that Harris became nervous when he saw Caprio pointing her weapon at him, and that he ducked his head and just accelerated through the only opening for an escape he thought he saw, striking Caprio, who was standing in his path. A tragedy, surely, but not a murder.

“He’s feeling terrible that he was involved in the taking of someone's life. He’s had time for that to just rest on him,” Brown said. “Certainly he’s bearing that weight, for sure.”