Ex-police officer won't be charged with perjury
Former Honey Brook officer William Baxter had admitted to lying during a pretrial hearing, prosecutors said.
By Kathleen Brady Shea and Reid Kanaley
Inquirer Staff Writers
Thursday April 1, 2004
A former Honey Brook Township police officer who resigned after admitting that he lied under oath during a pretrial hearing will not be charged with perjury, prosecutors announced yesterday.
Chester County District Attorney Joseph W. Carroll said his decision not to prosecute William Baxter was based on two facts: Baxter corrected his false testimony on Sept. 17 before the case went to trial, and he voluntarily resigned from his jobs in law enforcement.
In addition to being a full-time officer in Honey Brook Township, Baxter worked part time for Sadsbury Township.
Carroll said he balanced "the need for prosecution to protect the public and ensure fair trials for defendants against an overall policy of encouraging any witness who has provided false information or testimony to correct it."
In a three-page news release, Carroll said the case was investigated after Baxter admitted changing the facts from his initial police report during a hearing involving trespassing by a motorcyclist and resisting arrest by the driver's mother. Baxter approached a prosecutor after the pretrial proceeding and confessed to lying, Carroll said.
In response to that information, Carroll said both prosecutions were withdrawn and Honey Brook Township officials were notified. Baxter was suspended by the township until he resigned, Carroll said.
Defense attorneys in five other pending cases in which Baxter is involved were notified and offered a chance to have their cases postponed until the investigation was completed, Carroll said. None of the attorneys took the opportunity, he said.
Carroll said that even if investigators concluded that Baxter had made a mistake during his direct testimony, "at some point during the cross-examination," Baxter must have realized the error and yet failed to correct it.
"There is no excuse for that, and I cannot allow someone who would do that to remain as a police officer," Carroll wrote.
Neither Baxter nor his attorney could be reached for comment.
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