Md. seeks custody of man for trooper-slaying trial

October 06, 1990|By Michael J. Clark | Michael J. Clark,Howard County Bureau of The Sun

The Howard County state's attorney filed legal papers yesterday asking New York correctional officials to return Eric Tirado to Maryland to stand trial in connection with the March 29 fatal shooting of state police Cpl. Theodore D. Wolf near Jessup.

Deputy State's Attorney Dwight S. Thompson said Maryland intends to seek the death penalty for both Tirado, 26, and his co-defendant, Francisco Rodriguez, 20.

Mr. Thompson said New York prison officials were asked to give Maryland temporary custody of Tirado so that he can be tried for the murder of Corporal Wolf. Tirado is currently serving one to three years on a weapons charge at Greater Meadow Correctional Center in Comstock, N.Y.

The Howard County prosecutor said a similar request will be filed in a month with prison officials at the Elmira (N.Y.) Correctional and Reception Center for the return of Rodriguez, who will be tried separately from Tirado in Howard County Circuit Court.

Rodriguez also is serving one to three years for a weapons violation.

Both men's convictions stemmed from their arrests Feb. 4 by New York City police.

During a routine traffic stop, police said that they found Tirado in possession of a .38-caliber handgun without a permit and that two other handguns were found in the car in which Rodriguez was a passenger.

Mark Van Bavel, a Baltimore lawyer, said he and William Kanwisher, who is on the staff of the public defender, will represent Tirado in what could be a monthlong trial in Howard County in late winter or early next spring.

Mr. Van Bavel said he did not believe Tirado would attempt to block his transfer to Maryland for his trial.

"He has no reason to fight it," the defense attorney said. "Quite frankly, I have been wondering why the state [of Maryland] has been inactive for so long."

Corporal Wolf was shot to death on Interstate 95 during a traffic stop.

Mr. Thompson, the Howard prosecutor, said Maryland waited six months after the trooper's death because "the defendants were incarcerated in New York and going nowhere. It leaves us with time to complete the lab work and to complete the investigation in an orderly manner.

"Besides that, the two defendants are not yelling for a speedy trial."

Mr. Van Bavel said he and Mr. Kanwisher were "ready to go" to trial. "He was a very articulate, pleasant and nice man," Mr. Van Bavel said. "He dropped out of the police academy in New York, as a Transit Authority police trainee, because of family problems. The handgun charge is his only criminal record, and he is not the creature you would think would be accused" of Corporal Wolf's murder.

"He is taking the position that he had no involvement in the crime," Mr. Van Bavel said.

Mr. Van Bavel, a former prosecutor in both Baltimore and Baltimore County, said he expected the trial to take at least one month, with jury selection taking as long as several weeks.

Timothy Wolf and Michael Rexroad, both assistant Howard County state's attorneys, will prosecute Tirado and Rodriguez.

The two defendants, residents of the Bronx, N.Y., were charged with murder after Maryland State Police discovered fingerprints allegedly linking them to a stolen Chevrolet Nova that police believe the killers ditched in Lansdowne shortly after the trooper's slaying.

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