A former desk clerk at the Pikesville Holiday Inn told a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury yesterday how she prayed and begged for her life last February as an armed robber held a gun to her head and counted, "10, 9, 8 . . ."
Asked to identify the man, Peggy Sue Gunter of Reisterstown pointed at Tony Maurice Bedford, 19, a Baltimore man charged with a series of the so-called shotgun robberies in the area last winter.
The Holiday Inn robbery is the first case to come to trial against Mr. Bedford, who also uses the name Sadiyq Abdullah Muhammed.
In his opening statement, Assistant State's Attorney Mickey Norman said that Mr. Bedford and two other men held up Ms. Gunter and two Holiday Inn managers at about 6 p.m. Feb. 28. Mr. Norman said Mr. Bedford fired a shot that wounded one of the managers, resulting in an attempted murder charge against him. He also is charged with conspiracy, gun violations and multiple armed robbery and assault counts.
Defense attorney Jerome S. Bivens, who also represents Mr. Bedford in Baltimore, where he is charged in several armed robberies, urged jurors to keep their minds open.
Ms. Gunter, who now works at a grocery store, said the man she identified as Mr. Bedford entered the Holiday Inn and asked the cost of "your most expensive room." He then vaulted the counter and "grabbed me by the throat with a gun to my head and said, 'You have 10 seconds to get somebody to open the safe, or you're dead,'" she testified.
Two more robbers entered, one armed with a sawed-off shotgun, and the two managers and one of the robbers tried to get the combination to the safe to work, she said.
Mr. Bedford repeatedly gave them 10 seconds to open the safe, she testified.
"At one point I was down on my knees with a gun to my head and I just said , 'Please Lord, don't let him kill me: I have two children. . . .," she testified. "He kept counting down, saying, "OK, you're going to die. . . . ' "
Finally, she testified, Mr. Bedford "grabbed some money out of the cash register, turned and fired at us," and ran out behind the other two intruders, taking about $200.
"I felt the bullet go through my jacket," and saw one of the managers bleeding, Ms. Gunter told Mr. Bivens.
She said she accidentally hit the fire alarm, pulled a silent alarm and called 911.
A co-defendant in the robbery, Eric Cornell Wheeler, 30, of the 1100 block of McKean Avenue, pleaded guilty in that case and two others in Baltimore County and received a 60-year prison term Sept. 17. The third man never was charged.