Howard jury deadlocks murder retrial expected

January 31, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Howard Circuit Court jury has failed to reach a verdict in the trial of a Columbia man who is accused of fatally shooting a neighbor last June over a $50 debt.

The jury of eight women and four men told Judge Dennis Sweeney Friday night that it was deadlocked at 6-6 after 8 1/2 hours of deliberation.

The prosecution said it intends to retry Dwayne Romaine Briggs, a 31-year-old maintenance worker at a Kings Contrivance apartment complex for first-degree murder and seven other counts in connection with the shooting of 21-year-old Lawrence Rico Evans 3rd in Beeches Farm on June 9.

Judge Sweeney set the accused's bail at $150,000, pending the second trial.

During the five-day trial, Mr. Briggs testified that he acted in self-defense when he fired six shots from a .25-caliber automatic handgun at Mr. Evans. One of the bullets struck the victim in the chest, killing him.

Mr. Briggs said that he and the victim had been friends but that the relationship soured when Mr. Evans failed to repay him $50, which he said the victim wanted in order to buy cocaine.

Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage dismissed Mr. Briggs' version of the shooting during her closing argument. "The defendant's story is absurd," she said. "You must not believe his ridiculous story."

Mr. Briggs got his gun and went looking for Mr. Evans with the intent of killing him, Ms. Gage said.

But Edward Smith Jr., a Baltimore attorney representing Mr. Briggs, told the jury that if his client had planned to murder Mr. Evans, he would not have shot him outside the victim's girlfriend's home where there were potential witnesses.

Mr. Briggs testified that he got a gun from his vehicle when he took his dog for a walk about 9:30 p.m. on June 9.

He said that he saw Mr. Evans at the victim's girlfriend's home and that the men started a conversation as they stood about 20 feet apart.

During the conversation, Mr. Briggs said, his dog jerked at its leash, causing him to drop the handgun. As he picked up the gun, he said he saw Mr. Evans coming toward him.

Explaining that he was afraid of Mr. Evans, Mr. Briggs said that he pulled the trigger, unaware that the gun was aimed at Mr. Evans.

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