In a jailhouse interview shortly after his arrest, Tony Maurice Bedford, 19, told reporters he is a Muslim who helped lead the "shotgun bandits" as they robbed dozens of white-owned businesses last winter.
Bedford, who has renamed himself Sadiyq Abdullah Muhammed without legally changing his name, said during that March 20 interview at the Baltimore County Detention Center that the gang intended to use the money it stole to finance black businesses.
But yesterday in county Circuit Court, Bedford said nothing about religion or the shotgun gang as he testified on his own behalf during a motions hearing. He faces trial on charges of attempted murder and a half-dozen armed robberies.
Instead, Bedford testified that during an interview with detectives the day after his arrest, he refused to make any statements, but that police prodded him into talking to them.
When asked if he had anything to say, Bedford said, he told the police officers, "No, . . . I don't have anything to tell you."
But after police told him his fingerprints were found at the Holiday Inn in Reisterstown, where a clerk was shot Feb. 28 during a holdup there, Bedford continued to talk.
Asked by his lawyer, Jerome Bivens, why he continued to talk to police when he didn't want to, Bedford answered, "I really wasn't paying attention."
Judge James T. Smith Jr. labeled Bedford's story "ridiculous" and denied the motion to suppress the statements. Smith also refused to suppress two eyewitness identifications of Bedford.
Likewise, a motion to have the case removed to another county, because of pretrial publicity, was denied by Smith.
However, the judge did grant Bivens' request that during Bedford's trial, prosecutors and state's witnesses will not be allowed to refer to Bedford as a member of the "shotgun bandits" or to refer to the briefcase full of cash Bedford was carrying when he was arrested March 9 in Newport News, Va.
No trial date has been set, said Mickey Norman, the assistant state's attorney handling the robbery cases.
Bedford is accused of attempted murder in the shooting a hotel clerk at the Holiday Inn, as well as armed robbery in that attack. Police have charged him with robbing the Basic Foods store in the 8200 block of Liberty Road Jan. 28.
County police also have charged Bedford with the Valentine's Day robbery of Chi Chi's Restaurant in Timonium; the robbery of the Food Place grocery store in the 8500 block of Liberty Road Feb. 21; attempted robbery of the Imperial Pontiac-Nissan dealership, in the 1700 block of Woodlawn Drive, Feb. 28; and the robbery of the Maryland State Employees Credit Union on LaSalle Road in Towson March 7.
During the Towson credit union holdup, one suspect, Eric Cornell Wheeler, 30, of the 1100 block of McKean Ave., was trapped inside the credit union by police.
Wheeler, who took 13 hostages, later surrendered. On July 30, he pleaded guilty to the credit union holdup and two other robberies, in exchange for prosecutors dropping three robbery counts against him.
He is to be sentenced Tuesday.