A 22-year-old Glen Burnie man who had been jailed for nearly a monthon a murder charge was released yesterday after prosecutors dropped the case.
Gary Lamar Minniefield is the second suspect in the beating death of 45-year-old Shoukat Wakis "Sam" Khan to be cleared of a first-degree murder charge.
Last week, prosecutors dropped a murder charge against Ronald Delroy Chisley when the Harmons man agreed to plead guilty to being an accessory after the fact to robbery. Chisley, identified in court records as a cousin of Minniefield's, has been jailed since his arrest last July.
Assistant State's Attorney Frederick M. Paone said both cases were dropped for the same reason -- an ongoing police investigation raised doubts about their involvement in Khan's death.
"At thetime of the arrest we thought (Minniefield) was involved but there have been some things happening in the last few weeks," Paone said yesterday.
"It's unfortunate he was held this long but it was only inthe last few days we decided it probably wouldn't be in anybody's best interest to proceed with this case at this time."
Other than tosay county homicide detectives are looking at suspects in Khan's death, Paone refused to discuss the investigation further.
Minniefield's lawyer, Pamela L. North, was infuriated by the arrest and jailingof her client.
"There's no evidence against this guy. That's what's so aggravating. They might as well have charged me with this," North said. "It's just terrible to have detained him."
The investigation into Khan's death began last July when police found his badly decomposed body in the bedroom of his Pioneer City home. The state medical examiner's office ruled Khan died of "blunt force trauma to the head" two or three days before the body was found, and the investigation centered on Chisley's alleged scheme to rob the man.
But Kendel L. Sibiski, an assistant public defender who represented Chisley, said the defense team's legwork produced information that exonerated Chisley. The police investigation continued, leading to Minniefield's arrest June 20 on a charge of first-degree murder. Until the charge wasdropped yesterday, he had been held without bond.
In an application for charges contained in Minniefield's District Court file, countypolice Detective Thomas Rzepkowski described his search for a suspect named "Gary" who was said to be a cook at a Dorsey restaurant.
The detective wrote that he learned in February that Ronald Chisley had told a witness, unidentified in the file, that he, his brother and his cousin had gone to Khan's home to rob the man, but that the cousin was the person who beat Khan to death.
In March, the detective wrote, another witness came forward who placed Minniefield at Gardner Chisley's home, two doors down from Khan's.
"You could have arrested any number of black males in the community on this statement of charges," North said. "I'm sure there were other men in the community named Gary."
North accused police of arresting Minniefield, who lives with his fiancee and their two children in the 7700 block of New York Lane, in hopes of scaring him into making a statement implicatingChisley.
Minniefield's sister and fiancee said yesterday that a family gathering was planned to celebrate Minniefield's release. They complained of the injustice of his spending a month in jail.
"It was just terrible. They treated him like an animal, the way he had to be locked in a cage," said Sherrie Johnson, Minniefield's sister. Shecomplained that Minniefield had lost time from his job as a cook at the Honey Bee restaurant in Glen Burnie.
Hope Freeland, Minniefield's 19-year-old fiancee and mother of 10-month-old and 3-year-old daughters, said: "I don't think they should just come and take someone out of their home if they're not sure about something. . . . No one had to sit around and hear my daughter cry for her father but me."