New trial sought in Jessup slaying

May 06, 1994|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

A Virginia man convicted in the shooting death of his then ex-wife's boyfriend at a Jessup hotel in June 1991 asked for a new trial in Howard Circuit Court yesterday.

Adel George Hagez, 46, of Richmond could be sentenced to life in prison if Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr. denies his request and upholds his conviction for first-degree murder and a weapons violation.

At yesterday's hearing, Baltimore attorney William H. Murphy Jr. told Judge Sybert that he erred in ordering the defendant's wife to the witness stand even though he knew she would not testify.

Mr. Murphy said he believes Judge Sybert misinterpreted a state law that says husbands and wives may not be compelled to testify against their spouses, unless the case involves child abuse allegations.

Mr. Murphy urged Judge Sybert not to allow his ego to stand in the way of reversing Hagez's conviction and granting him a new trial.

Hagez was convicted by a Howard County jury last May in the slaying of Riad S. Hijaz, also of Richmond. Police said Mr. Hijaz was the boyfriend of Mr. Hagez's ex-wife, Virginia Dorhan Hagez, 45.

Testimony showed that Hagez shot Mr. Hijaz six times in front of Mrs. Hagez in her room at the Holiday Inn on U.S. 1 in Jessup on June 22, 1991. The shooting occurred about three months after Mrs. Hagez was granted a divorce.

The couple remarried four days before the husband's trial.

When Mrs. Hagez refused to voluntarily testify, Judge Sybert ordered her to take the witness stand. But she refused to answer any of the prosecution's questions.

Judge Sybert found Mrs. Hagez in contempt of court, saying that he believed she remarried her ex-husband only to avoid testifying against him.

Mr. Murphy, who took over the Hagez case after the conviction, accused Senior Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage of "prosecutorial misconduct" because she called Mrs. Hagez to testify when she knew the woman would not testify against her husband.

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