On Oct. 19, 2012 Kevron Evans, who raps under the name Young Moose, was arrested by Detective Daniel Hersl on the 1900 block of North Collington Avenue and charged with possession with intent to distribute narcotics. On May 30, 2014, Evans entered guilty pleas before Judge John Howard, who sentenced Evans, who had already served 60 days, to three years incarceration, with two years and 10 months suspended. Evans began the two years of probation to which Howard sentenced him.
According to Hersl’s July 2014 affidavit for a search warrant: “While awaiting trial for this matter during the month of May 2014, your Affiant was advised by numerous police officers that Kevron Evans has numerous rap videos on You Tube [sic]. Your Affiant reviewed the videos and in them, observed Kevron Evans and his associates in possession of multiple firearms.” Hersl names two of Evans’ “associates” in the video ‘Posted’ and locates the video at the home of Evans’ father. Evans’ “Motion for Bail Review” claims that Hersl “repeatedly voiced his intense dislike of numerous music videos starring Kevron.”
That May, at the same time Hersl saw Moose’s videos, so did thousands of others, including promoter Tony Austin, who signed Moose, who was beginning to blow up and was booked to play at the Baltimore Arena with Louisiana rapper Lil’ Boosie (who faced remarkably similar legal problems).
In July 2014, according to the affidavit, Hersl spent time surveilling the address and sent a Confidential Informant, “identified only as CI #2709,” to the Evans home with marked bills. According to Hersl, the CI handed the money to Kevron and received drugs from his father, Kevin. “Furthermore, based on information received from CI #2709 and the viewing of the music video ‘Posted,’ your Affiant believes that firearms are being stored in the residence.”
Hersl goes on to write that Evans—along with his brother and the other two individuals identified from the ‘Posted’ video—is “prohibited from possessing firearms . . . [because he] was found guilty of Possession with the Intent to Distribute Narcotics in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City on 05/30/2014.”
As Evans’ lawyer Richard Woods points out, however, the ‘Posted’ video was up on YouTube before Evans was ever on probation and, in his own affidavit, Hersl says he became aware of the video in May, prior to Evans’ probation.
Antonio Melvin, one of the other individuals identified by Hersl from the video, says that it may not have been posted on YouTube until December 2013, but was filmed as long as three years ago. “We were all minors then,” he told City Paper when reached by phone.
Nevertheless, Hersl’s probable cause was approved and he received a warrant. When the home was raided on July 25, Kevron Evans was not home. According to the charging documents, suspected heroin and suspected cocaine were found in the basement of the house, hidden inside a “false wooden compartment” and a pinball machine. An “Emergency Petition for Immediate Bail Review” submitted on Evans’ behalf says that, “During the search of the residence, Detective Hersl repeatedly told the civilians present in the residence how unfortunate it was that Kevron was not then present so he could arrest Kevron. Detective Hersl also stated that he was aware of the August 16 concert and stated that he would make sure that Kevron did not have any chance to perform at that concert,”
Kevron’s father, brother, and mother were all arrested on July 25. Detective Hersl waited until Aug. 12 to apply for an arrest warrant for Kevron and served it the following day, three days before the Lil Boosie show. On Aug. 14, Kevron was given a $250,000 bail, which Austin, who also hired Richard Woods as his lawyer, immediately paid. Austin tells City Paper that he sees rap as a “positive element” in Evans’ life. He said in helping Evans, he hoped to “give him employment and take him off the streets of Baltimore” and that he paid Evans’ bail because “different elements are trying to sign him.”
But before Evans was released, according to the “Emergency Petition for Immediate Bail Review,” “Detective Hersl went to Kevron’s probation officer, Agent Kenneth Henry, and made a series of accusations against Kevron (including drug manufacturing) and showed Agent Henry various music videos starring Kevron, including one in which Kevron appeared to have a gun in his possession (The gun was a video prop). Detective Hersl asked Agent Henry to immediately request a no bail VOP arrest warrant. Agent Henry did so. Detective Hersl then asked Agent Henry to hand carry the VOP [violation of probation] warrant request to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City . . . Although Kevron was just about to be released on bail, the arrival of the VOP arrest warrant prevented his release.”
When City Paper reached Agent Henry by phone, he said that Hersl did show him the videos and that he was not aware of the fact that the videos were posted before Evans was placed on probation. He said that he would have nonetheless automatically requested that Evans not be released on bail because “Mr. Evans is in the Violence Prevention Unit,” a classification he received based on “a screener that everyone has to have when they come through intake.”
In the meantime, Kevron’s father, Kevin, who was already out of jail on the same charges that his son was arrested on, was waiting outside with his manager, a pastor named Teron Matthews. “The day after we paid the bail to get him out, we were down at the Central Booking facility, we saw Hersl come and wait outside a block up from where they release the inmates,” Matthews recalls. “He was waiting in an unmarked car, and had a marked car by the door.” Matthews says he believes that Hersl was there waiting in case Evans was released before the VOP warrant came through.
Evans’ lawyer argues that “Detective Hersl wants to prevent Kevron from his first major concert appearance. The court should not give Detective Hersl the satisfaction of achieving his goal of suppressing Kevron’s artist expression” and suppressing his First Amendment rights.
Because it is an ongoing investigation, neither the BPD nor the State’s Attorney’s Office for Baltimore would comment on the use of rap videos as evidence of violation of probation or any other aspects of the case.
When Justin Fenton and Ian Duncan covered the case in The Sun (“When rap lyrics become evidence,” Sept. 14), they wrote that, though other states have ruled that rap lyrics and videos cannot be used as evidence in criminal cases, this kind of case has not been decided in Maryland. Woods argues, however, that Hannah v. State, which was decided by an appellate court in 2011, ruled that “the trial court erred in permitting the prosecutor to cross examine defendant about the 10 violent ‘rap’ lyrics that he had written.”
In the meantime, Detective Hersl was one of the subjects of a major piece of investigative work by The Sun’s Mark Puente, which resulted in a federal investigation of the BPD (“Some Baltimore police officers face repeated misconduct lawsuits,” Oct. 4). Puente’s reporting revealed that the city settled cases brought against Detective Hersl for accusations such as breaking a woman’s arm and a man’s jaw, and imprisoning a woman who was selling raffle tickets. In all three cases the city settled, for a total of nearly $200,000.
Teron Matthews claims Evans’ rights are being violated inside the jail. “Since he’s been in there, I requested my senior pastor at my church to go visit him because he sounded like was going through some emotional thing,” Matthews told City Paper, sending along corroborating documents. “Only your lawyer and clergy can come visit you in the first 60 days. My pastor’s secretary submitted paperwork on three separate occasions, the paperwork was acknowledged . . . [then] they said they had no paperwork.”
Evans is scheduled for a violation-of-probation hearing on Oct. 27, but Woods is not optimistic, saying that most often such hearings will not decide anything until after the underlying charges are resolved. Evans is scheduled to be tried for the drug charges in November, but, Woods says, the prosecutor in the case just informed him he was about to vacate for parental leave and the case would most likely be postponed until January or February.
If this is the case, Evans’ fans will also have to wait until then for the release of “OTM 3,” which his manager says is 90 percent complete.