An AWOL Canadian soldier charged with shooting at state troopers along U.S. 50 in June made his first county courtroom appearance yesterday as lawyers began preparation for an October trial.
Pvt. Donald Nelson sat silently as his lawyer demanded that prosecutors turn overevidence collected by state police during the shootout and the massive two-day manhunt that followed.
Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. ordered prosecutors to preserve tapes of police communications during the shootings and the manhunt, along with notes from the state police investigation.
District Public Defender Alan R. Friedman also is seeking to review a videotape shot from police helicopter that shows Nelson as he surrendered, unarmed, about nine hours after the shooting.
A 9mm semiautomatic handgun police say they believe Nelson used in the shootout was later found in a woods near Davidsonville.
The judge yesterday turned down Friedman's request that prosecutors be more specific in their contention that Nelson conspired with another AWOL Canadian soldier to attempt to murder the state troopers.
Nelson, 20, of Surrey, B.C., was handcuffed to a single crutch as a sheriff's deputy led him into the courtroom yesterday. He had been hospitalized for a bullet wound tothe knee after his June 7 arrest.
Nelson is charged with firing the bullet that lodged in Trooper Kimberly Bowman's leather handcuff case. The 22-year-old trooper, who is assigned to the Annapolis Barracks, was not injured in the shooting.
Nelson's alleged accomplice, 21-year-old Pvt. Eric William Schumacher, was captured only after a manhunt through the woods near U.S. 50. Police have said the incident began when Trooper Kim Bowman saw the men walking on westbound U.S. 50 a quarter-mile east of the Davidsonville Road exit. The trooper asked the men for identification and a police computer check showed theywere wanted -- without specifying why.
Both men are wanted in Canada for the May 30 shooting of a Toronto constable. Both are being held in the county detention center on $350,000 bail.
Friedman said Nelson has not received adequate medical care at the county jail since his June 12 discharge from Anne Arundel General Hospital.
"The problem is he's not getting any professional physical therapy," Friedman said.
"It's a matter of concern to him that not getting it may come back to haunt him at some point in terms of mobility."
CountyState's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee is asking that the men be tried together Oct. 15, but Friedman said he and Schumacher's attorney, Timothy D. Murnane, will likely oppose that request.
Weathersbee said the two defendants will likely be tried in Maryland before being returned to Canada.
Friedman questioned the wisdom of that move yesterday, noting that the trial will be an expensive one and a treaty between the United States and Canada could allow the men to return to their native country to serve any sentence they receive in Maryland.
Friedman said: "Ultimately we would hope that if (Nelson) is convicted and if he is given a jail sentence that there is a vehicle for him to serve his jail sentence in Canada rather than in the United States for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the cost to taxpayers.
"And he would rather serve time in his home country, likeanyone would."