the Sharecropper ’s Son
Colleagues say Ken Ravenell is one of
the hardest-working lawyers in the state;
but he says he knows what hard work really is
BY BILL GLOSE
PHOTOGRAPHY BY LUIGI CIUFFETELLI
“We thought she was dead the way she hit the ground,” says William
H. “Billy” Murphy Jr., senior partner at Murphy PA in Baltimore.
“Yeah, she went down like a sack of potatoes,” agrees Kenneth
Ravenell, also of Murphy PA.
“Ordinarily,” Murphy says, “you cross-examine the victim’s
For three hours.
mother by saying, ‘Oh, we’re so sorry for your loss. We have no
questions.’ The prosecution likes to put them on because they
evoke emotional sympathy.”
In this case, though, the mother was testifying about business
dealings between her son and Ravenell’s client, who was accused
of murdering the son. Ravenell used cross-examination to attack
“He got everything he needed to get out of her,” says Murphy.
“His numerical track record is phenomenal,” says Larry Gibson,
“The jury did not like her, the jury did not believe her, and that, in
part, explains why, when she got off of the witness stand, she just
collapsed in a heap right before she got to the rail that separates
the well of the courtroom from the spectator’s section. …. It was
a masterful example of a cross-examination that had a high
level of risk but had a tremendous reward. It was a killer cross-
Although a collapsing witness is atypical for Ravenell, foiling
prosecutorial strategy is not.
law professor at the University of Maryland. “He’s tried a couple of