Aberdeen man convicted in slaying wins new trial

May 31, 1992|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

An Aberdeen man convicted of stabbing a man to death in 1990 has won a new trial after his lawyer argued that prosecutors "deliberately sabotaged" the defense by not notifying him of a witness who would testify.

Ronald Lee Huff was to be sentenced Thursday in Harford Circuit Court. Instead, Harford Circuit Judge Stephen M. Waldron granted his request for a new trial. The trial has not been scheduled.

The new trial opens the door for the prosecution to try Huff, 38, on all the original charges. They included first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder and a weapons charge.

In the first trial in March, a jury convicted Huff of voluntary manslaughter and assault and battery, finding him not guilty of the original charges.

Huff is accused of stabbing Kenneth Hueitt, 23, of Aberdeen once in the chest during a Dec. 26, 1990, confrontation.

The defendant's attorney, Stuart L. Alison, argued in court papers that the prosecution failed to notify him that a man who told police he witnessed the stabbing would testify.

"The state deliberately sabotaged the defendant's ability to effectively present its case," Alison contended.

At the time of the trial, Assistant State's Attorney Michael Sanger said that his office and the Aberdeen Police Department were unable to find the witness until the day before he testified.

The witness, Eric Lewis, testified that he saw Huff stab Hueitt during a confrontation.

If he had known the witness was going to testify, Alison said his trial strategy would have been "substantially different." He noted he would have prepared opening statements to inform jurors about what Lewis would say.

Alison also argued that the court should not have allowed the witness to testify.

If Huff is convicted of first-degree murder, he faces a maximum sentence of life in jail. Had he not been granted a new trial, he would have faced up to 30 years in jail for the voluntary manslaughter and assault and battery charges.

Huff said he went to Hueitt's apartment in Washington Park to look for the victim's brother at 10:30 p.m. When he got to the apartment, he said, he was greeted by Hueitt wielding a butcher knife.

When Hueitt raised the knife, Huff testified that he grabbed another knife from Hueitt's belt and stabbed the man once in the chest. Hueitt died of the injuries.

The prosecution contended that Huff went to the apartment looking for revenge following a soured drug deal.

After the stabbing, Huff fled from Hueitt's apartment and was stopped by police about an hour later outside his apartment in the 500 block of Plaza Court, according to testimony.

The defendant testified that he was on his way to the Aberdeen Police Department to report the stabbing when stopped by police.

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