Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The man accused of attacking an 83-year-old sidewalk vendor was ordered held without bail yesterday, despite objections from his court-appointed attorney. The brutal beating was caught on a security camera.

Public defender Larry Kupers attempted unsuccessfully to call into question the police interrogation of his client, James A. Dorsey, 46, that resulted in a confession.

D.C. Superior Court Judge Erik P. Christian sided with prosecutor Jonathan Haray, who said it was inappropriate to argue at this stage what amounted to constitutional issues.

Mr. Kupers pointed out some inconsistencies during the cross-examination of Detective Michael Ross, the lead D.C. police investigator in the case.

For example, neither witness who gave police a description of the purported assailant could identify Mr. Dorsey in a photo. And the $100 Mr. Dorsey confessed to taking differed from the $300 the victim said was stolen.

But Detective Ross testified that the confession included details only the perpetrator could have known. Detective Ross also told the court that Mr. Dorsey was given food, cigarettes and time to sleep before he decided voluntarily to confess.

Judge Christian said there was a “knowing and voluntary confession with strong circumstantial evidence” to support the prosecution request. He also cited Mr. Dorsey’s criminal history. Court documents showed he has been arrested on 59 charges since 1984, including armed assault, with sentences ranging from 60 days to 4 years.

The May 3 attack was captured on surveillance videotape at the apartment complex in which the elderly woman, known as “Grandma,” lived. Relatives said yesterday that the woman is in a rehabilitation center, continuing her recovery. The woman’s name has not being released by authorities because she is a witness in a criminal case.

Mr. Dorsey was scheduled for another court appearance June 27.

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