Witness testifies defendant got into car after brandishing shotgun at drug area

February 02, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

If Gregory Lamont Howard hadn't leaned over and looked in the barely opened window of a car full of cheated and angry drug customers on Jan. 28, 1993, his life might not have been cut short by a 12-gauge shotgun.

After all, Timothy Cumberland, the 23-year-old man whose girlfriend had just spent $40 on a bag of bogus crack, had already been persuaded to get himself and the shotgun he was wielding back into the car, according to testimony at Mr. Cumberland's murder trial yesterday.

"The defendant was getting inside the car," Keith Edward Goins, a Westminster man who acknowledged on the stand that he has sold drugs along South Center Street, testified yesterday. "As he sat down, Greg Howard walked up, asked me if everything was all right and I said yeah. Then I saw the window being rolled down, and the gun [blast] went into Greg."

In the seconds between Mr. Cumberland's getting into the car and the shot that left Mr. Howard dead at age 22, Mr. Goins said, he heard a person in the car yelling, "Get in the car, let's get out of here, let's go, let's leave."

But it was too late, Mr. Goins said.

Mr. Cumberland is the last of the three people charged in Mr. Howard's killing to come to court.

Daniel Justin Leonard, 23, of Owings Mills was the owner of the car and of the shotgun. He has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and will be sentenced to no more than 10 years in prison.

The man who fired the shotgun, Samuel Allen Miller, 22, of Owings Mills, also pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and is serving 30 years in state prison.

Both men have agreed to testify against Mr. Cumberland.

Yesterday was the first day of testimony in Mr. Cumberland's trial. More than 10 witnesses took the stand, including Mr. Goins and two other witnesses to the shooting.

Prosecutors also presented testimony from the medical examiner's office, Westminster City Police and the paramedic who tried in vain to resuscitate Mr. Howard.

Michael D. Montemarano, Mr. Cumberland's attorney, has argued that while his client may have acted "stupidly" in brandishing the gun and shouting obscenities, he did not kill Mr. Howard.

In cross-examination, Mr. Montemarano tried to show the jury that Mr. Cumberland had ample opportunity to shoot but instead chose to get back into the car.

Testimony was expected to continue today.

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