A Pennsylvania man charged with three separate murders in Baltimore is going free after being cleared for the third time.
Dennis Diggs, 19, was cleared by a city jury late Tuesday for the October 2016 fatal shooting of Jamie Christian.
Diggs was previously found not guilty in January for the killing of 29-year-old Jarrell Hicks in March 2015, just days after prosecutors dropped all charges in the killing of University of Maryland, Baltimore County student Jackson Bleier, 22.
“These were weak cases,” said Diggs’ defense attorney Donald C. Wright. “It was just a poor investigation by the state.”
Wright said prosecutors alleged Diggs was engaged in a retaliatory killing spree after the death of his brother.
“Because his brother was killed, they looked to him, got this one witness, and ran with it,” Wright said.
Wright said Diggs’ mother moved him out of Baltimore and to York, Pa., after the death of his brother, and he was going to school and working at the time of his arrest.
“He’s maintained his innocence,” Wright said.
Diggs spent about 15 months behind bars after he was ordered held without bond after his November 2016 arrest.
Prosecutors did come away with one conviction in the case: Diggs’ co-defendant in one of the killings, Steven Milhouse, was convicted of first-degree murder, conspiracy and gun charges.
Milhouse was tried separately.
Detectives wrote in charging documents that surveillance video shows Diggs holding open the door for Milhouse, who entered with a gun drawn and began firing at Christian.
Christian attempted to run but slipped and fell. The video shows Milhouse standing over him and continuing to fire, police said when the men were charged. Diggs opened the door for other patrons to leave while he acted as a lookout, and he and Milhouse fled on foot together, police said.
“The first degree murder conviction of Steven Milhouse is yet another example of our office’s commitment to pursuing violent offenders to the fullest extent of the law,” State’s Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Melba Saunders said in a statement. “Based upon the video evidence in this case, we felt strongly that the shooter, Mr. Milhouse did not act alone. However, the court decided to sever the cases and a jury determined that other man in the store was not criminally responsible.”
Milhouse, whom court records from last year list as homeless, had previously been arrested with a gun and found guilty of possession. In September 2015 he received a sentence of three years, with all but two years and 11 months suspended.