If you are a fan of the legendary HBO series ‘The Wire,’ you are familiar with Dennis “Cutty” Wise. He was the former enforcer who returned to the streets for a brief time, then opened a boxing gym for the kids of West Baltimore. Well, this character was based on a real person named Dennis Wise. Like Cutty, he was an alleged fierce Baltimore hit man who was sent to prison in 1979. He was also accused of running a “large-scale criminal enterprise” from the Maryland House of Corrections. Now, after striking a deal with prosecutors, Wise has been released from prison. He was resentenced to time served plus five years probation.
According to the Baltimore Sun:
Wise is among the latest longtime prisoners released under the 2012 Unger ruling, in which the state’s highest court questioned the fairness of jury instructions during trials in Maryland before 1980.
City prosecutors said the agreement was an alternative to trying Wise again.
Prosecutors in the office of Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby have struck Unger deals with 122 criminal defendants, largely because it’s difficult to retry decades-old cases in which memories have faded, evidence has been lost and witnesses have died.
Five more inmates have died awaiting Unger hearings. Prosecutors are preparing to retry three inmates.
Antonio Gioia, Mosby’s chief counsel, said he agreed to the new deal in Wise’s case because the likelihood of winning another conviction against him was slim.
The original conviction was based on the testimony of three witnesses, none of whom actually saw Wise shoot Reid. One of them has died, Gioia said. Another has significant integrity issues.
While admitting to being knee deep in the streets, Wise denies pulling the trigger in the 1979 murder of 38-year-old James Reid. According to news reports, Wise was contracted to kill Reid after Reid double crossed a Baltimore drug dealer. Though he maintains his innocence, under his deal, Wise’s conviction still stands and he cannot challenge it.
In 1999, while Wise was in the House of Correction, the jail was raided to break up his so-called criminal enterprise. According to law enforcement, Wise was calling shots t the street from jail. Wise called the raid “prison politics,” waiving it off as an attempt “to break up the Inmates Advisory Committee, on which he and his friends held seats.” Nevertheless, Wise and many of his associates were shipped out of state “to disrupt their influence on the rest of the inmate population.”
All in all, Wise said it “felt really good” to walk out of prison after nearly 40 years in. “There’s always new hope,” he said.