Beach prosecutors withdraw death penalty in cop-killing trial

Posted at 11:44 AM, Mar 24, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-24 17:32:45-04

Reeling from revelations that as many as two state witnesses committed perjury, Virginia Beach prosecutors told a judge today they will no longer seek the death penalty against a man charged with robbing and killing an off-duty Norfolk police officer near a go-go bar.

A week earlier because of the lies, the same prosecutors withdrew murder charges against Kareem Turner. Turner and Raymond Lewis Perry were charged in 2012 with murdering Victor Decker in a gravel parking lot near an Oceana go-go bar. That crime happened in late 2010 but went unsolved nearly two years. Eventually, police arrested Perry and Turner based largely on the words of several jailhouse snitches who admit they are trading their cooperation for the possibility of reduced sentences.

Today, one of Perry's defense attorneys, David Bouchard, told the judge there are 17 "snitch witnesses" in this case. Bouchard asked for another $25,000 so a defense investigator could check out their stories too. That investigator uncovered the lies that freed Turner and led prosecutors to abandon the death penalty against Perry. Judge Stephen Mahan awarded $10,000. The investigator has already spent $50,000, according to Bouchard. Because the death penalty is no longer an option, the judge noted the defense investigation should now be less costly, and the trial may be shorter, than first planned.

The collapse of Turner's case and the change in Perry's possible sentence centers around a drug dealer. After he was convicted in Norfolk Federal Court, the drug dealer told police he and others had been in the parking lot of the Atlantis Gentlemen's Club in Oct., 2010. He said they were waiting to rob a rival drug dealer, but instead saw Perry and Turner running from the area where Decker was shot. However, the drug dealer admitted in an earlier court hearing he repeatedly lied to police about what he knew. So, according to court records, testimony and interviews, he recruited another person to vouch for the story.

That second witness -- the corroborator -- admitted it was all a lie. He said he did it as a favor. Stolle said last week he is considering perjury charges against his own witnesses.

Perry is serving a federal robbery sentence of more than 90 years. In the Virginia Beach case, prosecutors are still pursuing a capital-murder conviction. If Perry is convicted, the only sentencing option would be life in prison, which is essentially what he is serving now. Bouchard and Jennifer Stanton, Perry's other attorney, said Perry was not involved in the Decker murder. There is no eyewitness, no DNA, no forensics and no murder weapon.

The defense attorneys have said in court that Decker was repeatedly unfaithful to his wife. That -- and not robbery -- could be the motive for murder, they've said.

Perry's trial is scheduled for October.

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