Defendant brandished shotgun but did not kill, attorney says

February 01, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Timothy Cumberland may have been stupid to get out of his friend's car and brandish a 12-gauge shotgun to vent his anger over being sold fake crack, but that doesn't make him guilty of murder, his attorney told a Carroll County jury yesterday.

"There's no doubt that Timothy Cumberland was stupid, but Timothy Cumberland is not a murderer," Baltimore attorney Michael D. Montemarano said in his opening statement as Mr. Cumberland's trial opened in Carroll Circuit Court. "There's no intent to murder. There's no premeditation. This is a terrible tragedy . . . but you will come to one clear conclusion. Timothy Cumberland is not guilty of murder. . . . He is not guilty."

Mr. Cumberland, 23, of Reisterstown is on trial in the Jan. 28 fatal shooting of Gregory Lamont Howard, a 22-year-old Westminster man. Mr. Howard was killed on South Center Street by a single shotgun blast to the chest.

Prosecutors insist that Mr. Howard got in the middle of a crack cocaine deal gone bad, and that he had the misfortune of being near a car full of people bent on revenge for being sold $40 worth of bogus crack.

"Drugs and revenge are what we have here today," Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill told the jury in her opening statement. She said that Mr. Cumberland and three friends, who were at an "all-you-can-drink" night at a Main Street bar, decided to get high. They drove to Center Street, bought $40 worth of crack, then decided to buy another $40 worth. The second batch turned out to be soap flakes.

"Timothy Cumberland got out that shotgun," Ms. Hill told the jury. "He got out of the car to get revenge for the $40 he lost, he got out forrevenge for not getting the crack."

Mr. Howard, who approached Mr. Cumberland's girlfriend and others in the car, was not involved in either drug transaction that night, the prosecutor said. "Tim Cumberland passed the gun to Samuel Miller, who pulled the trigger," Ms. Hill said. "Gregory Howard, who had nothing to do with Tim Cumberland's loss of $40, was dead."

Samuel Allen Miller, 22, of Owings Mills admitted last year that he shot Mr. Howard. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. He will testify against Mr. Cumberland, court officials said.

Daniel Justin Leonard, 23, of Owings Mills also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and will serve no more than 10 years in prison. It was his car and his gun that were used that night. Mr. Cumberland's attorney acknowledged that his client and three friends decided to get high that night, and he said that Mr. Cumberland felt betrayed and angry at being cheated. He got out of the car with the shotgun. But he didn't point it at anyone, and only held it as a club, "as an equalizer."

"Finally, he realized carrying around a shotgun ain't gonna do it," Mr. Montemarano said.

Testimony in the weeklong trial is expected to begin today before Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.

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