Slaying defendant wants trial moved

April 06, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Details of a Jan. 30 slaying in Westminster were misstated in Monday's Carroll County edition. Timothy Cumberland, charged with murder, conspiracy and manslaughter, is accused of throwing a shotgun to Samuel Allen Miller, who in turn is accused of using it to kill Gregory Lamont Howard.

The Baltimore Sun regrets the error.

One of the four defendants in the January drug-related shooting of a Westminster man is seeking to have his trial moved from Carroll County.

"My understanding is that the local newspaper portrayed the victim as someone who was a saint," Michael D. Montemarano, who represents defendant Timothy Cumberland, said yesterday. "Unless the case is moved from the jurisdiction, how fair of a trial could my client get?"

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Mr. Montemarano said the best place for the trial would be Baltimore or Baltimore County, where this type of killing is more common.

In addition to the change-of-venue request filed late Friday afternoon in Carroll Circuit Court, Mr. Cumberland, 23, of Reisterstown is asking that his $250,000 bail be reduced.

Mr. Cumberland is charged with first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter, conspiracy and related charges in the Jan. 30 slaying of Gregory Lamont Howard, 22, of Old Manchester Road.

The killing, which took place on South Center Street, was the first in Carroll County since the March 25, 1992, fatal shooting of a Melrose hardware store owner.

Also charged with first- and second-degree murder in the Howard killing is Samuel Allen Miller, 22, of Owings Mills. Police charged Daniel Justin Leonard, 23, of Reisterstown with felony murder because he is accused of being an accessory before and after the fact. A fourth suspect, Matthew August Balaz Sr., 25, of Westminster was arrested and charged with being an accessory after the fact.

Mr. Miller, the alleged trigger man, is being held without bond; Mr. Leonard is free on $100,000 bond; and Mr. Balaz was released shortly after his arrest. His bond amount was not available last night.

Police said Mr. Cumberland allegedly was the one who threw away the shotgun used to kill Mr. Howard.

According to police, the first three defendants went to South Center Street to buy cocaine and purchased what they thought was cocaine for $40. After driving away, police said, the three discovered they had been sold laundry detergent. They drove back, looking for the person who sold them the bogus crack.

Mr. Howard walked toward the car, police said, and was shot.

He was not involved in the drug transaction, authorities said.

Because of publicity surrounding the shooting, Mr. Cumberland's attorney said yesterday that a fair trial for his client would be impossible in Carroll County.

The lawyer also wants to have a Carroll judge reconsider Mr. Cumberland's bail, set Feb. 11 by District Judge Donald M. Smith.

"My client doesn't have access to that kind of property to secure a $250,000 bond," Mr. Montemarano said.

The lawyer also filed motions seeking the text of statements made by the defendants to police and other evidence. And he filed a motion demanding a speedy trial.

"I don't think there's much there that says anything more than my client was at the wrong place at the wrong time," he said.

"There's nothing on the record to indicate enough evidence to support a first-degree and second-degree conviction for my client," Mr. Montemarano said.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill, who is prosecuting all four defendants in separate trials, declined to comment yesterday.

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