Pair expected to plead guilty in Westminster killing Defendants apparently will testify against 3rd suspect NTC

September 02, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Two Baltimore County men are expected to plead guilty to second-degree murder in the January shooting death of a

Westminster man and testify against the third man charged in the drug-related slaying, two attorneys in the case said yesterday.

Defense attorney Michael Montemarano said Samuel Allen Miller, the alleged trigger man, and Daniel Justin Leonard, owner of the gun police say was used to kill Gregory Lamont Howard, will both testify against his client, Timothy Cumberland, 23.

The three, all from the Reisterstown-Owings Mills area, are charged with first-degree murder.

In exchange for Mr. Miller's and Mr. Leonard's pleas and %J testimony, prosecutors have agreed not to pursue sentences of life in prison without parole against the two, Mr. Montemarano said last night.

Prosecutors will seek a 30-year sentence for Mr. Miller, 22, and a 10-year sentence for Mr. Leonard, 23, Mr. Montemarano said.

Attorney Charles L. Waechter, who represents Mr. Leonard, confirmed the plea deal last night. He said that the state will argue for a 10-year sentence, but that he will be free to ask for less. He said that his client has yet to be approached about cooperating with prosecutors.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill, the prosecutor in the case, would neither confirm nor deny the plea deals.

Carroll Public Defender Brian Green, who represents Mr. Miller, declined to comment on the case earlier yesterday. He could not be reached last night to comment on Mr. Montemarano's statements.

Papers filed in Carroll Circuit Court point to some type of deal for Mr. Miller, who is accused of shooting Mr. Howard on South Center Street after a drug deal Jan 29.

An order requiring Mr. Miller to appear before a judge Sept. 7 was filed in Carroll Circuit Court late Tuesday. A "court trial" is listed as the reason for Mr. Miller's presence.

A court trial in such a high-profile case -- prosecutors were seeking life in prison without parole for Mr. Miller -- usually means some type of plea bargain has been arranged.

Of the three suspects' cases, only Mr. Cumberland's appears to be heading toward a jury trial. Mr. Cumberland, police said, allegedly tossed the shotgun used in the killing to Mr. Miller before it was fired.

Police and court records say that the three defendants went to South Center Street and purchased what they thought to be cocaine for $40. After driving away, the three discovered that they had been sold laundry detergent. They returned to Center Street to look for the person who had sold them the bogus crack.

Mr. Howard, who was not involved in that drug transaction, walked toward the car and was shot.

It was unclear yesterday whether Mr. Leonard and Mr. Miller would be asked to testify at Mr. Cumberland's trial. That trial, now set for Sept. 20, may be postponed when Mr. Montemarano requests a continuance Sept. 15.

Mr. Cumberland was offered a similar plea deal, Mr. Montemarano said yesterday, but rejected it.

"Hey, my client is innocent," the lawyer said.

He said the testimony of Mr. Miller and Mr. Leonard "wouldn't deal a fatal blow" to his client's "assertions of innocence."

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