Lawyers sat on information for months that could have freed man accused of murder

Posted at 7:45 PM, Mar 18, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-18 19:46:24-04

The lie that derailed the murder trial of Kareem Turner yesterday was actually uncovered months ago by the team representing Turner's co-defendant, Raymond Lewis Perry.

At the heart of yesterday's last-minute collapse is a federal inmate. He's a felon 10 times over, convicted of, among other things, trafficking large amounts of cocaine. He testified earlier he wants to trade his cooperation in the Victor Decker murder case for a reduced sentence. Decker was an off-duty Norfolk officer robbed and shot in a parking lot near an Oceana go-go bar in 2010.

But the inmate has a credibility problem. He admitted in an earlier hearing he repeatedly lied to police who asked him about the Victor Decker murder. According to court testimony, court files and interviews, NewsChannel 3 learned the inmate convinced another criminal to help him, to give his story credibility and vouch for it. Their story was that they were in a car in the parking lot of the Atlantis Gentlemen's Club on Oceana Boulevard to rob a drug dealer. The inmate testified he saw much of what happened to Victor Decker -- except for the shooting -- and said he is all but certain he saw Perry and another man run past him after the murder. That other man, police contended, was Kareem Turner.

Nine months ago, Perry's defense team tracked down that witness, the corroborator. That man admitted he lied as a favor to the inmate. That information was passed to Turner's lawyers because Turner's trial was first. Turner's lawyers in turn told prosecutors, and yesterday, Commonwealth's Attorney Colin Stolle conceded that one, and maybe two state witnesses, committed perjury.

When asked why police and prosecutors hadn't figured out their own witness was lying, Stolle said this: "I think that is a question better posed to the Perry defense team who had this information for the last nine months and didn’t turn it over to us," Stolle said. "How anyone sat on that information for nine months, knowing there were people in custody, is beyond me."

Turner's mother, Gloria Williams, also expressed surprise yesterday that the information used to free her son was actually known nine months ago. Turner was held in jail -- largely on snitch testimony -- for a year and half. NewsChannel 3 contacted Perry's defense team, attorneys Jennifer Stanton and David Bouchard, to ask why they didn't turn over that evidence. Stanton replied in an email: "As there is a gag order in place, neither myself nor Mr. Bouchard are able to provide a response."

Because Turner and Perry were both charged for robbing and murdering Decker, many of the witnesses were expected to testify in both trials. Now at least two state witnesses may be hopelessly tainted, but Stolle said he is still pursing Perry. He said he has other evidence that points to Perry, but because of the gag order, would not disclose it.

Perry's trial is scheduled for September.