Jury to resume deliberations today in murder trial of Reisterstown man

February 08, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

A Carroll Circuit Court jury today was to resume deliberations in the first-degree murder trial of Timothy Cumberland in the slaying of a Westminster man last year.

The panel of nine men and three women deliberated until 10 p.m. yesterday, weighing the testimony of more than 20 witnesses, examining more than five dozen pieces of evidence and mulling more than two hours of closing arguments by attorneys yesterday.

Mr. Cumberland, 24, of Reisterstown is on trial in the shotgun slaying of Gregory Lamont Howard, 22, on Jan. 28, 1993, after a soured drug deal on South Center Street.

Throughout the six-day trial, prosecutors contended that, even though his co-defendants -- convicted trigger man Samuel Allen Miller, and Daniel Justin Leonard, who owned the murder weapon -- pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, Mr. Cumberland was the catalyst who turned a routine foray in Westminster's drug supermarket into a fatal encounter.

At one point last night, the jury asked for clarification of the meaning of intent, sources said, and asked whether Mr. Cumberland's desire for revenge on a person who sold him bogus crack cocaine could be interpreted as intent to kill Mr. Howard, who was not involved in the drug deal. Intent is a key component of first-degree murder.

"Tim Cumberland's action that night rises to such an egregious, atrocious level that it rises to first-degree murder," Assistant State's Attorney Eileen McInerney said earlier, in her closing argument.

Prosecutors argued that Mr. Cumberland was bent on revenge after buying a bag of soap flakes that was supposed to be crack from a drug dealer on South Center Street, and went looking for the dealer. They said he yelled profanities and wielded a shotgun before he got back into Leonard's car seconds before the gun discharged and fatally shot Mr. Howard.

Defense Attorney Michael D. Montemarano argued that Mr. Cumberland did not shoot the gun, did not physically harm anyone when he was out of the car, and did not have the intention to kill.

"Here's this fearless leader the state describes for you," Mr. Montemarano said of his client. "He led us to a place he didn't know, to buy what he couldn't find, in a car that wasn't his, with a shotgun he didn't know about."

If Mr. Cumberland is convicted of first-degree murder, he could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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