Death after shoving match leads to assault conviction

March 04, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

An East Baltimore man faces up to 20 years in prison after being convicted yesterday of assault and battery for shoving a Highlandtown shopkeeper who suffered a fatal heart attack during the incident.

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury deliberated for an hour and a half yesterday before finding John Frank Terranova not guilty of involuntary manslaughter in the June 3, 1992, death of 51-year-old Conrad George Leimbach. The jury convicted Terranova of assault and battery, which carry maximum sentences of 20 years.

Explaining the decision to find Terranova not guilty of manslaughter, jury foreman Keith Whitmer said, "It wasn't clear enough that the push caused the heart attack."

After the verdict was announced, Judge Kenneth L. Johnson revoked Terranova's $10,000 bail and set sentencing for April 16.

As two sheriff's deputies led him handcuffed from the courthouse, Terranova, who looked as if he'd been crying, told a reporter, "I'm not guilty."

Terranova, 28, had rented a second-floor apartment above Mr. Leimbach's American Quality Foods in the 3200 block of E. Lombard St. The apartment had no lock on its door upstairs, leading Terranova to try to place a lock on a rear entrance to both the store and the stairway leading to the apartment.

That move led to a confrontation between the two men. Witnesses in the two-day trial said Terranova pushed the store owner, who then suffered a fatal heart attack. Terranova was originally charged with first-degree murder after being arrested within hours of the incident, but he was indicted on charges of manslaughter and assault and battery.

Dr. Dennis Chute of the state medical examiner's office testified that Mr. Leimbach was a heart attack waiting to happen and that the struggle with Terranova brought on the attack.

During closing arguments yesterday, prosecutor Michael C. Flannery described Terranova as a lying thief and a "rash, hot-headed individual."

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