Murder suspect is assigned 3rd public defender

February 01, 1994

A third public defender will take over the Howard Circuit Court case of a man accused of murdering his girlfriend at the Rocky Gorge Reservoir last spring.

Daniel Shemer, director of training at the state Office of the Public Defender in Baltimore, will represent Marvin Philander Smith when his case goes to trial on May 4.

Howard Public Defender Carol Hanson told court officials at a hearing yesterday that Mr. Shemer will handle the case. She said her office had to withdraw its representation of Mr. Smith because of a conflict of interest.

Sam Truette, the assistant public defender who was representing Mr. Smith, learned earlier this month that he also was representing a man who is expected to be called as a prosecution witness against Mr. Smith in another case.

Ms. Hanson added that Mr. Truette and other attorneys in the county office have discussed the Smith case and are too familiar with the conflict to serve as Mr. Smith's defense attorney.

Mr. Smith's first public defender left the case when he was transferred from Howard to Baltimore County last fall.

Mr. Smith, 35, of no fixed address, is charged with first-degree murder for the beating death of 38-year-old Vanessa Armstead of Baltimore at the reservoir in Scaggsville on April 13. He has been held since June without bail in the Howard County Detention Center.

Prosecutors are expected to seek a sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole if Mr. Smith is convicted.

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