Soldier guilty of murder in shots at Howard party

November 21, 1990|By Michael J. Clark | Michael J. Clark,Howard County Bureau of The Sun

A 23-year-old Baltimore soldier has been convicted of second-degree murder and other charges for killing one person and wounding two others when he shot randomly into a crowd of people attending a party in rural Howard County on May 20.

The Howard Circuit Court jury, which deliberated almost 12 hours, returned the verdict just before midnight Monday against U.S. Army Spc. Jeffrey L. Fowlkes. He also was convicted of two counts of assault within intent to murder and four handgun charges.

Fowlkes, who had been stationed at Fort Lee, Va., faces a maximum penalty of 75 years in prison when he is sentenced Jan. 29 by Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr.

He was convicted of firing a 9mm semiautomatic handgun into a crowd of partygoers gathered in the rear yard of the home of Bertha Burgess in the 13100 block of Triadelphia Road in Glenelg.

Joseph Taylor, 21, of Cooksville was shot in the back and killed, while Ronald Miles of Glenwood was wounded in the calf and William Shird of Baltimore was hit in the elbow and the back.

Four other people who were attending the party were wounded by a blast from a shotgun, but the person who fired that shot was never identified.

Fowlkes had maintained that he was about to fire into the air to break up a series of fights that had broken out at the party when someone pulled down his arm and the shots went into the crowd.

Kate O'Donnell, the prosecutor, told the jury that Fowlkes was "no peacemaker."

"He had a gun loaded and ready to go under the seat of his car," she told the jury. "He was a big man. . . . The fistfight was over, but he took the slightest opportunity to be the big man and shoot into partygoers just feet away from him in a random manner. . . . It is malice. It is murder."

The defense attorney, Richard W. Winelander, noted that defense witnesses said they heard another pistol fired. Mr. Winelander told the jury there was no conclusive evidence that Fowlkes had fired the shots that killed one man and wounded two others.

"I'm not Perry Mason," he told the jury. "Somebody killed Joe Taylor. I don't know who it was. . . . What we have here are doubts. It was utter darkness, and nobody saw what was going on."

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