Judge allows evidence from drug officer who lied in another case

Posted: August 24, 2014

A judge has denied a defense motion in a petty drug case to suppress evidence from a Philadelphia narcotics officer who admitted that he gave false testimony in a previous case to protect the safety of a confidential informant.

After hearing brief arguments from two defense lawyers, Municipal Judge T. Francis Shields ruled that he would allow Christopher Hulmes' testimony in the trial of Ricardo Jennings, 55, whom Shields later found guilty on drug-possession charges.

Jennings, who used the alias Richard Hill earlier in the trial, was arrested June 14 after police seized six packets of heroin from his car on Lehigh Avenue near A Street.

Two years ago, Hulmes was labeled a liar by a Philadelphia judge in the trial of an alleged drug dealer. That judge then threw out evidence seized from the defendant.

Hulmes has been removed from duty by the Police Department pending the outcome of an Internal Affairs investigation. The city has paid a $150,000 settlement in a civil rights lawsuit against Hulmes. Another lawsuit against him is pending.

On Tuesday, Hulmes admitted that he gave false testimony in a 2010 drug case against Arthur Rowland, saying he wanted to protect a confidential informant. Hulmes said he feared that the informant, who worked for Rowland, would be harmed if he were identified.

The District Attorney's Office has not barred Hulmes, 42, from testifying, as it has in the case of six officers accused of robbing drug dealers.

Under questioning from defense attorneys, Hulmes said again Friday that he gave false testimony in Rowland's trial.

"I was trying to keep someone from getting harmed," Hulmes said.

Asked if he knew he was committing a crime when he gave false testimony, Hulmes replied, "I do now."

After hearing testimony from Jennings and Sgt. Patrick Love of the Philadelphia Police Narcotics Strike Force, Shields found Jennings guilty of possession of a controlled substance.

Saying Jennings had stage-four colon cancer and had been in jail since his June 14 arrest, prosecutors asked that he not be sent to prison. Assistant District Attorney Lauren Murray asked Shields to sentence Jennings to probation.

Shields then sentenced Jennings to two years' probation and no further penalty.

vclark@phillynews.com

215-854-5717

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