Could investigator suspensions affect the Phylicia Barnes case? - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

Could investigator suspensions affect the Phylicia Barnes case?

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Det. Daniel Nicholson (Source: The Baltimore Sun) Det. Daniel Nicholson (Source: The Baltimore Sun)
Major Terrence "Terry" McLarney Major Terrence "Terry" McLarney
BALTIMORE (WBTV) -

Investigators have charged a man with the murder of a Union County teenager who was killed while visiting family in Baltimore back in 2010. But in the past year, two of the top investigators on the case have been suspended from the Baltimore Police Department.

So the question is - will that affect the Phylicia Barnes case?

Barnes was 16-years-old when she disappeared while visiting her half-sister in Baltimore on December 28, 2010. She was last seen with Michael Johnson, now 28-years-old, who was indicted and charged with her murder on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the lead investigator on the case was suspended from the Baltimore police department while investigators look into how he handled police resources after his own teenage daughter went missing over the weekend.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Det. Daniel T. Nicholson IV was suspended on Tuesday after he was accused of conducting an unauthorized raid while searching for his missing 15-year-old daughter. She was later found unharmed.

Johnson's attorney, Russell Neverdon, says the police department rushed to arrest him because of Nicholson's suspension.

"This is all in the wake of the lead detective, Detective Nicholson's personal issues making headlines and potentially casting questions of the integrity of the investigation," Neverdon told WBTV on Thursday.

He says Johnson has been in officers "sights from the first day" and say he met with homicide detectives multiple times and even submitted a DNA sample for testing.

"The police made good on their promise," Neverdon told the Baltimore Sun. "They told him during one meeting that it was only a matter of time before they got him."

Baltimore State's Attorney Gregg Bernstein says the suspension of Det. Nicholson will not affect the Barnes case.

"Absolutely not. The matter involving Det. Nicholson is a completely separate matter that is currently under investigation" Bernstein said in a press conference on Thursday about the arrest of Johnson.

"If I thought for a moment that any of the allegations involving him even remotely impacted this case, we would not have brought it. We feel very confident in the evidence that we have and the agents and investigators from all the agencies that I mentioned that participated in this- and we're ready to go forward."

The head of Baltimore's police union, Robert Cherry, reportedly defended Nicholson's actions to the Baltimore Sun.

"I think what Detective Nicholson did is no different than what any concerned parent would do," Cherry said. "He went out to find his missing daughter and make sure she was safe. In the end, I think the facts will prove that he did not abuse his position or his power. He did what every American, what every parent should do, keep their kids safe."

Nicholson is the second investigator in the Phylicia Barnes case that has been suspended from the police department during the 16-month investigation.

In March 2011, just weeks before Barnes' body was found by workers at the Conowingo Dam on the Susquehanna River, another investigators on the Barnes case was suspended.

Baltimore Police Major Terrence "Terry" McLarney, the head of the department's homicide division, was suspended as a result of a roadway incident.

McLarney was involved in an accident near an off ramp to Interstate 95, with his vehicle running off the road. Police said McLarney left the car at the scene, without calling police.

"It looks like this is a weather-related accident," police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said, "but the Commissioner wanted to be proactive in the suspension just in case this turns out to be more than that."

In his position with the police department, McLarney was in charge of the team searching for Barnes. It was later determined that no charges will be filed against him.

McLarney was removed as the head of the homicide department during a shakeup at Baltimore police in June 2011.

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