Ex-Meade basketball player convicted of fatal shooting after pickup game

January 08, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury convicted a former Meade High School basketball player of second-degree murder yesterday for shooting a 21-year-old Severn man after a pickup game.

Raymond Sommerville, 20, of Arnold, who played guard for Meade in the 1990-1991 season, was convicted in the April 7 shooting death of Robert Lee Hall.

Judge Eugene M. Lerner revoked Sommerville's $20,000 bond and set sentencing for March 1.

According to testimony, Sommerville and Mr. Hall got into a fistfight after a pickup basketball game in Severn.

Mr. Hall got Sommerville in a headlock but released him when a friend of the defendant put a pistol to his head and ordered him to let go.

Sommerville grabbed the gun and taunted Mr. Hall, who tried to flee. Sommerville fired a shot, which struck Mr. Hall in the head.

Paul Eugene "Bone" Turner, 18, who lived nearby and allegedly supplied Sommerville with the gun, is to be tried later this year on first-degree murder charges.

Sommerville's attorney, assistant public defender Paul Hazelhurst, told jurors that his client fired the fatal shot.

Bur Mr. Hazelhurst argued that Sommerville was guilty of manslaughter, not murder, because he had been provoked and beaten by Mr. Hall. Sommerville, he said, grabbed the gun and fired it in a fit of rage.

"The peace that Raymond Sommerville tried to maintain on that basketball court that night was beat

en right out of him, and it was replaced with rage," he told jurors.

Assistant State's Attorney Fred Paone emphasized that Mr. Hall was running away when he was shot and argued that there is a difference between justifiable rage and retribution.

"Revenge is no excuse. You've got a right to defend yourself, but you don't have a right to take revenge," Mr. Paone said.

Mr. Paone said he will ask for a lengthy prison term at sentencing.

Second-degree murder carries a 30-year maximum sentence. Manslaughter carries a 10-year maximum, Mr. Paone said.

Stephen Payer, the jury foreman, said that in nearly five hours of deliberations, the jury focused primarily on whether the beating provoked the defendant.

"There was really no evidence that he was really beaten up all that badly," Mr. Payer said .

The defendant's mother, Margorie Coates of Severn, called the verdict "outrageous," saying her son was goaded into the fight.

"My son never had a gun in his life. He never hurt anyone," she said.

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