Man given 30-year term in slaying Guilty plea entered in Jan. city shooting CENTRAL -- Union Mills * Westminster * Sandymount * Finksburg

September 08, 1993|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

One of three defendants in the January shooting death of a Westminster man pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in state prison.

Samuel Allen Miller, 22, of Reisterstown, entered the plea during a 20-minute hearing before Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold.

Miller had been charged with first-degree murder and faced a possible sentence of life without parole in the Jan. 28 killing of Gregory Lamont Howard, 22, on South Center Street in Westminster.

Asked by Judge Arnold if he were pleading guilty because he was guilty of shooting Mr. Howard, Miller quietly answered, "Yes."

Mr. Howard's mother, Patricia Winfield, who is a Carroll County probation agent, nodded gently when Judge Arnold pronounced Miller guilty of killing her son.

After the hearing, she said she was at peace with the plea deal.

"It doesn't make any difference if it were 100 years, it's not going to bring him back," Ms. Winfield said. "This has been like something that is unfinished, almost like a nightmare."

The plea was expected. More than a month ago, Miller agreed to cooperate with prosecutors and offer his testimony against Timothy Cumberland, 23, of Reisterstown, the only one of the three charged in Mr. Howard's death whose case is going to trial. The third defendant, Daniel Justin Leonard, also of Reisterstown, is expected to plead guilty to second-degree murder before Mr. Cumberland's jury trial begins a week from today.

Mr. Leonard, the owner of the gun that police said was used in the killing, also has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a prison sentence of no more than 10 years.

BNeither Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill nor Assistant Public Defender Brian Green would comment yesterday on Miller's plea.

Police and court records allege that Miller, Mr. Leonard and Mr. Cumberland went to South Center Street and bought $40 worth of cocaine from an unidentified woman. The trio asked for more, but the dealer told them to go "around back."

There, police said, they saw a man who sold them another $40 worth of what they thought was crack cocaine. They discovered that the second purchase was soap flakes.

The prosecutor said Mr. Cumberland stood outside the car waving a shotgun as the three men looked for the man who sold them the bogus crack. Mr. Howard approached the group and asked them to leave. Then Mr. Cumberland tossed the gun to Miller, who shot Mr. Howard, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Howard was not involved in the drug transaction, Ms. Hill said.

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