In the year since police found Shoukat Wakis "Sam" Khan's badly decomposed body in the bedroom of his Pioneer City home, two men have been arrested and charged in the slaying.
But after one of the accused pleaded guilty yesterday to a reduced charge, the prosecutor in thecase said he isn't sure what happened the night Khan was killed.
Ronald Delroy Chisley has been jailed since his arrest last July on a first-degree murder charge in the 45-year-old Khan's death. But Chisley pleaded guilty yesterday to being an accessory after the factto robbery.
"I'm not going to take a guy to trial on a murder charge unless I'm darn sure I have a clear idea what happened," Assistant State's Attorney Frederick M. Paone said, explaining why he agreed to accept the plea to the lesser charge -- a plea that will send Chisley to an inpatient drug treatment program instead of prison.
Paone said an ongoing investigation into Khan's slaying produced new information, but he refused to elaborate.
Kendel L. Sibiski, an assistant public defender who represented Chisley, said the defense team's legwork produced information that exonerated Chisley and identified other suspects.
The state medical examiner's office had said Khan died of "blunt force trauma to the head" two or three days before the body was found. Carroll L. McCabe, another assistant public defender assigned to the case, said the defense would have produced a pathologist to testify Khan had been dead less than a day before his body wasfound.
McCabe also said their investigation turned up a witness who saw Khan alive one day before his body was found.
The second man charged, Gary Lamar Minniefield, was arrested June 20 and charged with first-degree murder. Minniefield, a cousin of Chisley's, is beingheld without bond at the county Detention Center.
Interviewed after Chisley's court appearance yesterday, Paone said investigators arecontinuing to look at the Khan murder case.
In an application forcharges contained in Minniefield's District Court file, county police Detective Thomas Rzepkowski described the twists his investigation took after Chisley was arrested July 28 on charges of murder and armed robbery.
Police did not believe Chisley, 24, of the 1400 block of Dorsey Road in Harmons, acted alone in Khan's death, the detective wrote. Rzepkowski noted that Chisley, his brother, Gardner Angelo Chisley, and Minniefield were seen the night police believe Khan was killed, smoking and selling crack at the intersection of Pioneer and Richfield drives. That intersection is a block southeast of Khan's home in the 1800 block of Arwell Court.
The detective wrote that he learned in February that Ronald Chisley had told a witness, unidentifiedin the file, that he, his brother and his cousin had gone to Khan's home to rob the man, but that Minniefield was the person who beat Khan to death.
In March, the detective wrote, another witness came forward to place Minniefield at Gardner Chisley's home, two doors down from Khan's. When he was arrested shortly thereafter, Minniefield, 22, gave police addresses in the 600 block of St. George's Avenue, Severn, and the 7700 block of New York Lane, Glen Burnie.
During the police investigation, Chisley denied killing or robbing Khan, but admitted smoking crack with his brother on the July 4,1990 -- three days before Khan's body was found.
During yesterday's hearing in countyCircuit Court, Paone amended the fourth count of the indictment against Chisley from robbery to accessory after the fact.
He then toldthe court that Chisley had solicited a number of people to join him in robbing Khan. He said Chisley, who was unemployed, was later seen carrying a large amount of cash.
"It was later determined that he had obtained that money from someone else who may have been involved in robbing Mr. Khan," Paone said, establishing the evidence necessaryfor a conviction on the accessory after the fact charge.
Under Maryland law, a person who is among a group committing a felony can be convicted of murder even if someone else killed the victim. Asked whether Chisley, if he was involved in a robbery that turned into a killing, could have been tried under this theory, Paone said, "Whether hewas there or not has been called into question."