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Lawyers for Hudson County detective charged in fatal Maryland shooting ask judge to dismiss indictment

Photo Credit: Cliffview Pilot File Photo

YOU READ IT HERE FIRST: Attorneys for a detective for the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office who oshot and killed a man during an apparent road-rage incident in Maryland last spring today accused the state’s attorney and a state trooper there with presenting “false and misleading testimony” to a grand jury.

In a bid to make sure Joseph Walker was indicted on first-degree murder charges, both “purposely withheld from the [g]rand [j]ury critical facts,” the attorneys wrote in a motion to the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Md. seeking a dismissal of the grand jury indictment based on “prosecutorial misconduct.”

In a second motion filed separately with the Circuit Court, Walker is trying to admit the results of a polygraph examination that the attorneys say he passed two weeks ago.

The results “convincingly demonstrate that [he] was truthful when he stated that he acted in self-defense in discharging his service weapon on the day of the shooting,” said his lawyers, Steven H. Levin, Charles N. Curlett and Michael Cornacchia.

Walker, his wife and their children – ages 3, 6 and 11 — were headed back to their Burlington County home after attending a young cousin’s birthday party in Maryland last June when their paths crossed with 26-year-old Joseph Harvey Jr.’s just south of Baltimore.

The initial Maryland State Police report, citing a passenger who was with Harvey, said the incident began with Walker cutting them off and both then swerving at one another. At one point, Harvey apparently drove on the shoulder, it says. At another, the passenger told police, Walker pointed a gun at them.

A mile from where the trouble began, both vehicles pulled onto the shoulder of a highway entrance ramp.

Harvey’s passenger, Adam Pidel, told police that he and Harvey got out of their car but that he stayed behind while Harvey walked toward Walker.

At that point, he said, Walker went back to his mini-van and retrieved a gun, which Maryland State Police said was a .45-caliber Glock.

Pidel said he heard a single shot followed by others and took cover.

In today’s court filing, Harvey’s lawyers contend that:

· “The trooper testified that Harvey and Pidel ‘had lunch’ immediately prior to the shooting but omitted the fact that Harvey and Pidel had been drinking for four hours at a restaurant, and Harvey was later found to be legally intoxicated at the time he threatened Det. Walker.

· “The assistant state’s attorney and trooper falsely stated to the Grand Jury that ‘after the first shot, all the witnesses who have provided statements indicate that the victim, Mr. Harvey, was standing still and had his hands up,’ suggesting he was surrendering.

“Five of the seven witnesses who provided statements did not see the shooting and did not say that Harvey had stopped his advance towards Det. Walker or raised his hands,” the motion says.

“[T]he account of one of the two remaining witnesses who did observe the shooting was internally inconsistent, and the second witness’s account contradicted the inconsistent accounts of that first witness,” the lawyers said. “Moreover, neither of those two witnesses concluded that Harvey had raised his hands to surrender.

·”The trooper falsely testified that none of the wounds suffered by Harvey showed evidence of being fired at close range. He failed to inform the Grand Jury that Harvey’s body was found 6 feet from the Walker family’s minivan, where Det. Walker was standing when he fired the shots.

“He failed to include the critical fact that Harvey traversed a distance of approximately 158 feet, during which time Det. Walker exercised total restraint, and only discharged his weapon when he had no other recourse.

·”The trooper falsely testified that Det. Walker ‘did not make any statements.’ In fact, Det. Walker provided a statement to an officer with the Anne Arundel County Police Department who responded to the scene. In that statement, Det. Walker said that he feared for his life and the lives of his family prior to shooting Harvey.

“The substance of Det. Walker’s statement was disclosed to the trooper five weeks before the trooper testified before the Grand Jury.

·”The assistant state’s attorney and the trooper intentionally withheld other critical facts from the Grand Jury including, but not limited to, Pidel’s admission to law enforcement personnel that Harvey purposely stopped his car, left it and advanced on the Walkers’ minivan to assault Det. Walker.”

Walker has remained free on bail and suspended without pay.

As a result, he is receiving help with his legal bills from the National Police Defense Foundation and the New Jersey State Policeman’s Benevolent Association. Other groups have also rallied to Walker’s defense — including PBA Local 232, which represents the detectives of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

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