Defendant claims fatal shooting of neighbor was in self-defense 'I was actually scared then,' man testifies at murder trial

January 29, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Columbia man accused of murdering a neighbor testified on his own behalf yesterday, contending that he acted in self-defense when he fired six shots -- one of which struck and killed the victim.

Dwayne Romaine Briggs told a Howard Circuit Court jury that he was "actually scared" when he met Lawrence Rico Evans 3rd on a sidewalk at the Beeches Farm apartment complex on June 9.

Mr. Briggs, a 32-year-old maintenance worker at the Kings Contrivance complex, is charged with first-degree murder and two other counts for the slaying of his 21-year-old neighbor.

"I was kind of nervous and uneasy of Mr. Evans," Mr. Briggs told the eight women and four men of the jury. "I was actually scared then."

The defendant took the stand on the third day of testimony in the trial before Judge Dennis Sweeney. If convicted, Mr. Briggs faces a maximum sentence of life in prison. The trial is expected to conclude today.

Mr. Briggs testified that he and Mr. Evans were good friends for about three years, but he said their relationship became strained after Mr. Evans failed to repay $50 he borrowed to buy cocaine in March.

The defendant said he never expected to get the money back, but he stopped spending a lot of time with Mr. Evans. "[Mr. Evans'] behavior pattern had changed completely toward me," Mr. Briggs said. "We were developing bad communication."

Mr. Briggs testified that he was walking his dog when he stopped at his vehicle to get his .25-caliber automatic handgun. As he walked the dog, Mr. Briggs said he held the leash and gun in one hand.

While walking on a sidewalk, Mr. Briggs said he met Mr. Evans and the two men started a conversation as they stood about 20 feet apart. The defendant said his dog jerked at its leash, causing him to drop the handgun.

Mr. Briggs said he went to pick up the gun when he noticed Mr. Evans coming at him.

"At that point, I thought my life was in danger," Mr. Briggs said. "I picked up the gun and pulled the trigger. Bullets repeatedly came out of the weapon. . . . It was unbelieveable to me that one of the rounds hit Mr. Evans."

Under cross examination by Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage, Mr. Briggs first said he was not aiming the gun at Mr. Evans. He next said he was aiming at a window of a nearby house. He then said he was aiming at the wall of the house.

After Mr. Briggs testified that he trained as a marksman while in the military, Ms. Gage asked him why he did not check to see where he was pointing a loaded gun.

"It all happened so fast," Mr. Briggs responded.

The defendant testified that he buried the gun and threw the bullets into a Baltimore reservoir.

"I was scared," he said. "I didn't believe anybody would %o understand what happened that night."

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.