Defiant defendant gets long sentence Leader of so-called shotgun-bandits gang is convicted.

December 06, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff B

Tony Maurice Bedford, 20, one of the leaders of the so-called shotgun bandits who terrorized the city and county last winter, defiantly faced the Baltimore County Circuit Court judge.

A jury of nine women and three men had just convicted Bedford yesterday of five charges, including attempted murder, armed robbery and related counts, in the Feb. 28 holdup of the Holiday Inn in Pikesville.

Rather than postpone sentencing, so that the normal presentence investigation could be done, Bedford, who goes by the name Sadiq Abdullah Muhammed, insisted on being sentenced immediately by Judge James T. Smith Jr.

But first, Bedford questioned the authority of Smith, proclaiming his allegiance to Allah and promising that the "Supermax" prison in Baltimore will not hold him once he's incarcerated.

"I'm going to be back on the street," Bedford promised.

After a scolding from Smith, Bedford angrily told the judge, "What about the crimes you committed? You killed 250 million of my people. . . . You and the people of the Shriners and the Masons and those of your ilk."

"I did not do anything of what you're talking about," Smith answered. "You committed the crime in this case."

Smith then imposed the absolute maximum penalty, life plus 40 years in prison. The terms are to run consecutively.

"The judge gave him a hell of a sentence," said Mickey Norman, the prosecutor in the case. "But, given the nature of the guy's activity, the sentence was justified."

After deliberating for slightly more than an hour, the jury found Bedford guilty for his part in the robbery of the Holiday Inn in Pikesville. The jury found that Bedford was the man who shot Robert McNeil, an assistant manager, just before Bedford and two other men fled from the hotel.

The robbery happened about 6 p.m. that day and, according to trial testimony, Bedford was angry because McNeil and another manager, John MacLennan, failed to open the hotel safe.

In closing arguments yesterday, Norman spent just a few minutes going over the evidence in the case.

There were "three unshakable eyewitnesses" who identified Bedford as the gunman in the robbery, Norman said. Besides McNeil and MacLennan, the desk clerk, Peggy Gunter, identified Bedford.

Also, there were two sets of fingerprints found on the front desk that fingerprint experts testified belong to Bedford, Norman said.

In his closing arguments, Jerome Bivens, Bedford's public defender, spent nearly an hour moving about the courtroom, shouting, acting out the robbery and making references to everything from football to fishing to peanut butter.

He compared the state's case to an English composition and at one point even recited the nursery rhyme "Jack and Jill" in a singsong voice.

Saying the state had failed to fully present its case, Bivens began a string of rhetorical questions. "Who's Jack? Who's Jill? Were they married? Were they living together? . . . How come Jack fell? What was Jill doing when Jack fell? Where was Jill when Jack fell?"

Bivens wanted to know why more fingerprints were not found at the scene, and why more physical evidence, such as traces of hair, clothing and shoe leather, were not found.

He also questioned how the witnesses could be so certain of their identifications since the gunman was wearing dark sunglasses.

In rebuttal, Norman urged the jury not to fall for Bivens' "Columbo act."

"This is not a composition," Norman said. "This is not about Mickey Norman or Jerome Bivens or courtroom theatrics. This is real life."

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