BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Three years after toddler McKenzie Elliott was shot while playing on her front porch, the man charged in her killing appeared in court Tuesday.
But attorneys for Terrell Plummer say prosecutors have the wrong man.
Authorities say this was a gang-related killing, and 3-year-old Elliott got caught in the cross fire.
Federal prosecutors have vigorously tried to protect their witnesses, but defense attorneys argue that prosecutors have gone too far.
Police were under intense pressure to solve Elliott’s murder in the days after she was shot in 2014.
“We will bring them to justice before the end of this week,” police said back in 2014.
Now, the defense attorneys for her accused killer, Plummer, say federal prosecutors have little evidence and are withholding witness statements that could clear their client, who faces the death penalty because these are federal charges.
The defense alleges police were in such a rush to make an arrest, the lead detective intentionally misled a judge to get a warrant to arrest Tyrone Jamison, one of Plummer’s associates, and incorrectly claimed multiple confidential informants identified Jamison as the shooter.
That case fell apart.
On Tuesday, a federal judge took the extraordinary step of making that detective take the stand, and ultimately determined he did not intentionally mislead anyone.
Defense attorneys declined to comment following Tuesday’s hearing.
Federal prosecutors say multiple witnesses placed Plummer at the shooting scene, and an ATF expert traced the bullet trajectory to where Plummer was standing.
They are not naming the witnesses to protect their safety.
Elliott happened to be in the wrong place as Plummer, Jamison, and other Old York Money gang members engaged in the violence to protect their turf.
“McKenzie Elliott’s homicide should not have gone unsolved for that long. And the reason that I say that is that if we couldn’t have gotten more help from the public, more help from the community, even just small bits of information, that is the kind of help that we all need in the law enforcement fight against violent crime,” authorities said back in 2014.
In addition to having a tough time getting witnesses to come forward, police have never found a crucial piece of evidence: the murder weapon used in Elliott’s murder.
Plummer has been in custody for six months. His trial date has not yet been set.