Melrose hardware store murder trial to get change of venue from Carroll

September 09, 1992|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

WESTMINSTER -- The murder trial of the man charged in the slaying of a Melrose hardware store owner will be held outside Carroll County.

Michael C. Bryson, charged with first-degree murder and armed robbery in connection with the March 25 shotgun killing of Charles W. Therit, has asked Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. to move the case because he "cannot have a fair and impartial trial" in Carroll.

According to state law, Judge Burns has no choice but to move the trial. Since State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman is seeking the death penalty, the case must be taken out of Carroll if either Mr. Bryson or Mr. Hickman requests that it be moved.

The change of venue is one of several issues to be resolved during a pre-trial motions hearing this morning in Carroll Circuit Court.

Last month, prosecutors were given permission to subpoena Sybel L. Bryson, the defendant's 70-year-old grandmother. Her deposition is scheduled to be taken tomorrow afternoon, court records show.

In an answer to Mrs. Bryson's motion not to testify against her grandson, the state's attorney said her testimony will be important in the trial.

Mr. Bryson called his grandmother the night of the killing, gave her an alibi "which will prove to be false," and continued to give her other information that will "directly impact on [Mr. Bryson's] credibility," the prosecutor said in his answer to the motion.

The Therit killing was the county's only homicide so far this year. The owner of Deep Run Hardware in Melrose, Mr. Therit, 51, was shot in the face with a 20-gauge Stoeger-brand shotgun during a robbery, police said.

His death stunned the residents of Melrose, a small country town near Manchester. The Therit family is well-known in the area.

The victim's parents had operated a general store in the building for years, and his seven brothers and sisters were fixtures in the community. Former Deep Run Hardware employees said Mr. Therit knew most of his customers by name, and that he probably knew Mr. Bryson.

Mr. Bryson was arrested April 6 after police found his fingerprints on the casing of the shotgun shell that killed Mr. Therit, police said. The shell was taken from a box of ammunition in the `D hardware store, police said.

The 25-year-old Carroll native had no fixed address when he was arrested at his parents' Manchester home. He has been held in the Carroll County Detention Center without bail since his arrest.

In addition to first-degree murder and armed robbery, Mr. Bryson also is charged with two counts of murder in the commission of a felony, robbery, misdemeanor theft and battery.

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