Jury won't learn of Bryson's record Judge rules for defense

February 19, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

ANNAPOLIS -- On the day Melrose hardware store owner Charles W. Therit was killed, Michael C. Bryson Sr. was fresh out hTC of jail, desperate for a job and was thousands of dollars behind in restitution and child support payments, Carroll prosecutors said yesterday.

But Circuit Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr. ruled that the Anne Arundel jury hearing Mr. Bryson's capital murder case won't be told many details concerning the defendant's criminal and financial background.

Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman wants to show that Mr. Bryson had ample motive to shoot Mr. Therit, 51, in the head and grab a fistful of $10 and $20 bills from his cash register on March 25.

But in yesterday's hearing, which was conducted without the jury present, Judge Duckett agreed with defense attorney Richard O'Connor and ruled he would not allow the prosecution to tell the jury much about Mr. Bryson's extensive financial and criminal problems.

Mr. Bryson, 26, of Manchester, is charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and five related counts in the shooting death of Mr. Therit, the popular owner of Deep Run Hardware Store.

According to information presented to Judge Duckett by the prosecutor and defense attorney during yesterday's hearing, two days before Mr. Therit was shot, Mr. Bryson was released from a York County, Pa., jail, where he had served time for driving while intoxicated and embezzling more than $5,000 from a former employer.

At the time Mr. Bryson was released, he was working out a payment plan for the nearly $1,700 he owed to his former employer and more than $100 he owed in a bad check case.

Before he received that jail sentence, Mr. Bryson was given probation before judgment on a DWI charge in Carroll and on a battery charge in Baltimore County, Mr. Hickman said.

The prosecutor also told the judge about a theft and forgery charge in Baltimore County in 1991 in which Mr. Bryson allegedly stole $425 from an employer.

And, on the day before Mr. Therit was killed, Mr. Bryson was served with court papers because he was more than $2,200 behind in child support payments.

Judge Duckett has excluded testimony about most of Mr. Bryson's financial problems. He also has excluded testimony about the reasons Mr. Bryson was in jail, and about Mr. Bryson's back child support.

But the judge did allow two witnesses yesterday to testify with the jury back in court that Mr. Bryson told them on the day of the murder that he had just been released from jail and that he was looking for a job.

"He mentioned he was desperate for a job, and that he really needed a job," said Patrice Resh, a 31-year-old woman who said she used to work with Mr. Bryson.

Also during the non-jury hearing yesterday, Mr. Hickman told the judge that Mr. Bryson had told a fellow inmate at the Carroll County Detention Center that he killed Mr. Therit for the money to make restitution.

Mr. O'Connor categorically denied that his client made such a statement.

The judge asked Mr. Hickman if the inmate, convicted kidnapper David Teddy Yoswick, would be called to testify for the prosecution.

Mr. Hickman said he was "leaning against" using Yoswick or two other inmates who supposedly heard Mr. Bryson talk about the Therit killing.

The trial, which is expected to last six-weeks, continues today.

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