Joseph Anthony

Selected Works

Fact-based fiction
This true story is about a simple man convicted of a murder he did not commit.
Fairy Tales traditionally start with “Once upon a time” whereas just about all police stories begin with “And this is no sh*t….” and this compilation of stories of a cop’s life in the City of Baltimore is no sh*t!
Fiction
Wealth, sex, international intrigue and revenge permeate this book filled with exciting and memorable characters.
Quincy Peters loses his home but then rises to power and influence in the Nation’s Capital.

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Guilty but Innocent

Excerpt


The 911 call came in at 4.15 am on Saturday morning, August 7th, 1982. The caller sounded incoherent, slurring his words but shouting that he had been shot and his nephew was dead. The dispatcher tried to calm the caller, asking for his name and address, and reassuring him that a patrol car was on its way.

“Hurry, will you,” yelled the caller, “I’m bleeding to death here and my nephew’s already dead.”

Some fifteen minutes later, a patrol car pulled up in front of the one-story corner house in The Heights. It was a single family dwelling facing row homes across the street and surrounded by a badly peeling white picket fence. A pathway lay between the fence and the neighboring stretch of row homes that stretched out down the road from the corner. Behind the house was an open field separating it from a copse of trees; a stream ran between the trees and the open field. The pathway led from the street directly into the open field.

Although this place was in the midst of Billy-boy land as it was known in Baltimore, it was curious that there was no-one around. The streets were silent and empty.

Elsewhere in the city and particularly West Baltimore, the police officer reflected, there would be raucous parties going on all round and drunks and druggies would be staggering about. Friday nights and early Saturday mornings were big party times in his experience. The silence, quiet streets and absence of people was slightly unnerving, particularly in the half-light of pre-dawn.

The responding officer, Steve Wilson, quickly scanned the yard and its surroundings before striding up the path to the front door. He knocked and entered the house. He first saw an older white man slumped against a wall, leaking blood and moaning. Across the room, he spotted a bare-chested younger man lying on the floor with a dirty red-rimmed hole in his chest, approximately where his heart was. Immediately, Steve checked with the dispatcher that the EMS were on their way and told her to call 2100 to notify Homicide that a dead body had been found. He could see signs that there had been some sort of struggle in the front room. An overturned bottle of cheap wine was slowly letting its contents gurgle out over the floor, puddling into a pile of ash and scattered cigarette ends from an ashtray lying beside an upended table. A Lazy-Boy recliner was tilted at an odd angle and newspapers and a couple of girly magazines were scattered around the room. A dank smell of sour wine, cigarette smoke and the coppery smell of blood permeated the room.

As he took in the wrecked room, Steve heard the squeal of brakes as at least two other patrol cars from his sector arrived, closely followed by the throbbing and flashing lights of the EMS ambulance. Since Steve was the first on the scene, it was “his” and he detailed one of the arriving uniforms to check the house and the other to secure the perimeter.

Within minutes, the two EMS men climbed out of their ambulance, opened out a stretcher and laid their emergency medical gear onto it before advancing on the house. Just as they were about to step into the front room from the doorway, the newly arrived Homicide detectives called out sharply, “Wait, that’s a crime scene, you can’t go in there.”

They hurried up to the house and, putting out a restraining hand towards the EMS men, the lead Homicide detective, Lenny Cole, stepped into the front room and surveyed the wreckage.

“Hey detective,” called out the ambulance driver, “what about him?” indicating the bleeding man slumped against the wall. “Shouldn’t we get him to the hospital?”

“Aw shit, I suppose so.” muttered Detective Cole. “Just slide that gurney round the wall and get him, and watch where you’re stepping, okay?”

Approaching the barely conscious man, the EMS team gently loaded him on the stretcher, and started backing out of the room. Leaning over the body, Lenny looked down and saw that the victim’s shirt and trousers were soaked with what looked like red wine. His shoulder, however, was soaked in blood and there were tell-tale signs of gun shot residue or GSR around the entry wound.

As the wounded man muttered incoherently, the EMS team positioned him on the gurney and slipped an oxygen mask over his nose and mouth. “Man,” one of them muttered, “this guy tied one on last night. Phew, but at least there ain’t no vomit.”

“What’s he saying?” asked Lenny. “Does it make any sense to you?”

“Naw, not much - something about why’d he do it, he shouldn’t have done it. Just meaningless rubbish.”

“Okay,” said the lead homicide detective, “take him to Johns Hopkins Bayview. Someone will get to him later.” He glanced at Steve Wilson, “You get out front and stop anyone else from coming in – we’ve got to check everything out.” He sighed, yet another pointless death in South-East Baltimore.

Lenny Cole was a well-built veteran homicide detective and he had a wealth of experience. He had seen everything at least twice, and very little surprised him. Although black, he was uniquely color-blind when it came to homicides, all he saw was the red of the spilled blood. His partner, Lamar Chambers, was also black but much younger and fairly new to the Homicide Division. The two detectives worked well together, experience in the older detective and enthusiasm untainted by cynicism in the other had melded them into a very effective team. They had a high clearance rate for homicides, as had the Homicide Division as a whole, although the clearance rate had been dropping of late. Hopefully, this one would not be one of their infrequent failures.

Lenny sniffed at the heavy smell of stale cigarette smoke and cheap booze permeating the room and nodded at his partner, “Okay, Lamar, let’s get started. Call the tech’ guys and re-check the house for anyone else, right?”

As he carefully scanned the room, Lenny immediately noted the absence of both a gun and any spent cartridges. So, the two men had been shot with a revolver, but where was it? Looking around, it seemed to him that the old guy had been sleeping, or at least dozing, in the battered Lazy-Boy recliner now canted against one wall. Obviously there had been some sort of fight, judging by the position of the recliner, the wine bottle and ash tray on the floor as well as the up-ended metal side-table and the TV set lying on its back beside a smashed wood stand. An old lamp with a low wattage bulb was still alight in the corner of the room but Lenny could see everything clearly as daylight from the progressing dawn crept into the room. He made notations in his notebook that an intermittently conscious late middle aged white male with a gun shot wound in his right shoulder had been transported from the crime scene to hospital by EMS personnel. The body of a half-naked white male, apparently shot, was also found at the crime scene.

While he waited for the Crime Laboratory people to arrive, he examined the body lying in the doorway between the front room and the bedroom behind it. The dead man was much younger than the wounded man. The bullet appeared to have gone straight into the heart, presumably killing him near instantaneously. Lenny noted the absence of any blood spatter, presumably he had been killed by a small caliber revolver. Lenny also saw that there were no powder residues on the torso, ‘Mmm’ he thought, ‘shot from across the room. Wonder if there were powder burns or gun shot residue on the old guy who was shot? Got to check that out.’ The dead man seemed to be even younger than Lenny first thought, probably about 18 or 19, and was well-built, blonde haired and blue-eyed, very much your typical Billy-boy. Curiously, he was clad only in baggy cut-off sweat pants which were pulled down from his waist, almost exposing his genitalia.

Lamar returned to the front room, “All clear. Back door’s locked, every other room is empty. Nothing out back, either. Looks as though one of them, the young guy I think, was sleeping in the bedroom.” He looked down at the dead body, “That’s odd.”

“What’s odd? Whadda ya see?”

“His pants are pulled down.”

“So?”

“Do you think he and the old man were getting it on and then things went wrong between ‘em?”

“Could be,” said Lenny, “might explain things, but maybe not. Who are these guys anyway?”

“Bills and envelopes on the kitchen table indicate that the house belongs to a Sidney Brown. Since there’s also a pension check to Sidney Brown from Bethlehem Steel on the table, my betting is that that’s who the old man is. I wonder who the young guy is; could he be the old guy’s lover?”