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Omar Burley: A Free Man (After Baltimore Sergeant Admits to Planting Evidence In Car)

Mary Rose Madden

The clouds of state and federal felony convictions cleared from Omar Burley’s life Monday as state prosecutors cleared him of all charges against him. Federal prosecutors had cleared Burley of their charges back in December.

Burley, who served seven years of a 15-year sentence in federal prison before he was freed last August, had been framed by Baltimore’s now discredited Gun Trace Task Force.

“I shouldn’t be here at all,” Burley said after a hearing at Baltimore’s Clarence M. Mitchell courthouse. “It was a very trying situation.”

Burley, who had a criminal record, was involved in a car chase and crash in April 2010 that led to the death of 86-year-old Elbert Davis.

Burley pleaded guilty in 2011 to state charges of manslaughter and federal charges of heroin possession, apparently because he thought no one would believe his side of the story.

But then came the revelations in the Gun Trace Task Force indictments and officers’ guilty pleas.

Sgt. Wayne Jenkins described in his plea agreement how he orchestrated planting heroin in Burley's car and tricked Det. Sean Suiter into finding it. Suiter was killed last November, the night before he was to testify before a grand jury about this incident. His death has gone unsolved.

That information led to Burley’s release on probation in August. The action Monday freed him from probation.

On the courthouse steps Monday Burley said he had mixed emotions, relieved to be completely released from all charges but also sad because of Elbert Davis’ death.

But now I’m hoping I can move on and finally put this behind me and feel some type of freedom,” he said. “But I know I’ll never be the same again.”

He said he’ll be going home to take care of his father who is now on dialysis. While he was in federal prison, he lost his mother, his girlfriend, and his godchild.

Public defenders estimate that thousands of cases must be re-evaluated because of the federal convictions of the eight Baltimore police officers.

Mary Rose is a reporter and senior news producer for 88.1 WYPR FM, a National Public Radio member station in Baltimore. At the local news desk, she assigns stories, organizes special coverage, edits news stories, develops series and reports.
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