- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The trial of a man charged with killing New York Times journalist David Rosenbaum opened yesterday with attorneys on both sides saying that the case hinges on the testimony of the defendant’s cousin and admitted co-conspirator.

Michael Hamlin “will confess to you that he and his cousin did this terrible thing,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Haines told jurors during opening statements in the trial of Percey Jordan Jr. “You will find out that the evidence in this case 100 percent corroborates what he is telling you.”

Mr. Jordan, 42, is charged with felony murder, aggravated assault and credit-card fraud.

Mr. Rosenbaum, 63, was out for a walk late Jan. 6 when he was beaten and robbed on Gramercy Street near his Northwest home. He died two days later at Howard University Hospital.

Hamlin, 24, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, robbery and conspiracy and is expected to testify against Mr. Jordan.

He has admitted stealing Mr. Rosenbaum’s wallet but said Mr. Jordan hit the journalist on the head with a pipe.

Miss Haines said yesterday that Mr. Jordan shoved the pipe up his sleeve and hid behind a tree before ambushing Mr. Rosenbaum.

“He raised that lead pipe and brought it down, down, down onto Mr. Rosenbaum’s head,” Miss Haines told the jury. “As Mr. Rosenbaum fell into a crumpled heap, this man sitting right across from you hit him again and again and again.”

The D.C. Superior Court jury, which consists of 12 jurors and four alternates, comprises 15 women and one man.

Defense attorney Michael Starr sought to discredit Hamlin in his opening statements.

He said that Hamlin, who surrendered to police after seeing his face broadcast on television, has changed his story repeatedly to cooperate with police and keep himself out of trouble.

“The government has manufactured a case about a completely unbelievable, untrustworthy story they have been fed by Michael Hamlin,” said Mr. Starr, who noted a lack of forensic evidence in the case. “That story, the evidence will show you, is false [and] untrue.”

Hamlin did not testify yesterday, although jurors heard from several other prosecution witnesses.

Rosemary Tornillo, a resident in the Rosenbaums’ neighborhood, testified to passing Mr. Rosenbaum the night he was attacked.

Mrs. Tornillo said she saw two black men get into a car and drive in Mr. Rosenbaum’s direction shortly after he had passed her. The men were in a car that Miss Haines said the car belonged to Hamlin.

“It’s going to come in as little pieces like a puzzle, and we’re going to put it together,” Miss Haines said.

Jurors also heard testimony from Mr. Rosenbaum’s daughter, Dorothy, and Marian Dirda, a woman whose purse was stolen Jan. 6 and whose credit cards were used along with Mr. Rosenbaum’s by Mr. Jordan, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also played the recording of a 911 call from a resident on Gramercy Street reporting Mr. Rosenbaum lying on the sidewalk outside her home.

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