In Baltimore County, if the thugs don't get you, Mark P. Cohen and City State's Attorney, Patricia Jessamy, will.
O.K., maybe these prosecutors arenít household names. But Kenny Der and Darrell Kifer will never forget them. Baltimore Prosecutor Cohen and Attorney Jessamy cost the two men hundreds of thousands of dollars in combined legal fees. Their crime? Self defense.
Der and Kifer run a commercial refinishing business. They had been burglarized over 20 times, including the night of June 29, 2001, when they were working on a rush job.
About 9:30 p.m. they heard noise upstairs. They got their guns and climbed the narrow staircase to investigate. In the dimly lit area they encountered Tyrone Walker, who greeted them with an expletive and announced that he was going to kill them.
Walker was brandishing an unknown weapon, later discovered to be a maul, and it was learned later by the coroner that Walker was high on booze and morphine.
Der and Kifer fired, hitting Walker multiple times from both a handgun and a shotgun.
Given that Walker had a long rap many times and had "earned" a PhD in criminal activity, one would think that Prosecutors Cohen and Jessamy would have been happy to see this thug's career ended prematurely.
Instead, they said that the two victims should have tried to flee onto a crime-ridden street and dialed 911. This would have entailed going singlefile down the stairs and then fumbling for a key to open the deadbolt locking the door. All of this under poorly lit conditions, and exposed to the attacker.
The defense brought in Masaad Ayoob as an expert witness. Ayoob trains police and civilians in the use of force in self-defense, including lethal force. He showed how quickly an assailant who was as close as was Walker could attack his victims. His testimony gave great weight to the necessity of the self-defense plea made by Der and Kifer.
The defendants waived their right to a jury trial on the advice of Attorney David Irwin, who said, "If you have a winner, you take a judge trial, if you have a loser, you take a jury trial." Literally seconds after the final summations of the prosecution and the defense, Judge John Glynn pronounced a verdict of 'not guilty.'
"This is a sad and disturbing matter," said the judge. "The state has the burden of proof, and I cannot find that the state met that burden of proof."
The good news is considerable. Kenny Der and Darrel Kifer were acquitted of murder and totally vindicated, ending a nightmare that lasted over 18 months. Also, they had managed to raise $100,000 for their defense.
The bad news is that they still owe $100,000 in legal bills.
Gun Owners Foundation has given assistance and made a contribution but would like to do more. If you would like to help defray the staggering costs of enduring this malicious prosecution, click here to make a tax-deductible contribution.
Or, write a check to Gun Owners Foundation and write in the memo line: Der & Kifer. The address is 8001 Forbes Place Suite 102, Springfield, VA 22151.
Every dime contributed to this fund is tax-deductible, and every dime will go
directly towards offsetting the enormous legal bills of the two men.