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Man to get new trial in 1952 first-degree murder case

La Plata, MD - A man convicted of first-degree murder by an all-white jury in La Plata in 1952 and sentenced to life in prison will get a new trial.

Charles Edret Ford is incarcerated at the Maryland Department of Corrections in Jessup for the murder of Vincent Lewis, who allegedly killed Ford’s brother in the early 1950s.

Judge Helen I. Harrington determined that Ford’s lawyer failed to file an appeal, a request for a three-judge panel to review his sentence and a motion for reconsideration. 

“We've won the case,” said defense attorney William Renahan Monday, July 6.

Noting the judge’s opinion, Renahan said he will be filing those actions, requesting an appeal and for a three-judge panel to review the case.

“I will also be seeking to have him released on bond while those proceedings are pending,” he noted.

Harrington also reviewed a 1975 assault case and found that the jury instructions were improper under Unger vs. State and has granted him a new trial. 

“I plan to be the trial attorney in that case,” Renahan stated.

“The judge and her law clerk did a magnificent job writing the opinion, detailing both the history of Mr. Ford’s cases and the law itself,” he explained.

Harrington first heard the defendant’s request for appeal Oct. 17, 2014, when Ford testified that both he and his girlfriend were coerced into making a confession to the murder of Lewis.

He said police “questioned us. Next thing I knew, they done took me to the jailhouse,” Ford said. “Later on, they called me up to make a statement and this state police officer hit me in the face with his night stick,” Ford said.

He testified that an all-white jury, including “one woman who knew me, but they didn’t kick her off the jury,” convicted him when the two witnesses who testified for the state offered contrary statements.

One testified he was wearing a light coat and dark pants and the other that he wore a dark coat and light pants.

Ford maintained he was “poorly represented.”

In her decision, Harrington noted that, “There is no record of witnesses who testified, and it is unknown if any of the witnesses are still living.”

Contact Joseph Norris at joe.norris@thebaynet.com

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