Family plans vigil in Arnold to mark unsolved slaying of nightclub owner

September 25, 1994|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Sun Staff Writer

The family of a woman shot to death in the driveway of her Arnold home last year is having a candlelight vigil tomorrow night to draw attention to the unsolved case and victims' rights.

"It has been a rough couple of days and we thought it might be a nice remembrance for her," said Pam Lyons, the sister of JoAnne Valentine, who was slain Sept. 26. "We also want to bring some awareness for the victims' rights amendment on the Nov. 8 ballot."

Ms. Lyons said she has spread word of the vigil, scheduled about 7 p.m. in the driveway, to many friends and family members. She is unsure how many will attend.

Ms. Lyons said the family will urge people to vote for the constitutional change that would guarantee victims a right to witness and participate in trials.

The amendment states that crime victims "shall be treated . . . with dignity, respect and sensitivity during all phases of the criminal justice process."

Victims also would have the right, upon request, to be notified of hearings and trial dates and to attend and be heard at those proceedings.

Mrs. Valentine, 47, had pulled into the driveway of her waterfront home on Broadwater Road about 4 a.m. after closing her nightclubs, A. L. Gators and Rumblefish, when four men confronted her. They exchanged harsh words and one of them fired two shots.

Mrs. Valentine was taken to Anne Arundel Medical Center and then Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she died about 7 a.m.

Her assailants did not take the $3,000 she had or her jewelry, police said.

Murder charges against Edward McLeod, 43, were dropped in February because prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence to convict him.

McLeod of the 1800 block of Division St. in Baltimore is charged with theft for allegedly stealing the weapon used in the killing -- a .38-caliber Taurus handgun --from the On Target gun store in Odenton on July 7, 1993. His trial is scheduled Oct. 18.

He is serving two concurrent one-year prison terms on unrelated theft charges and has been charged with federal weapons offenses.

According to court records, police found the pistol in the trunk of McLeod's car after he was arrested Oct. 1, 1993, on charges of stealing nine packs of film from a Safeway supermarket at the Lake Shore Plaza Shopping Center in the 4100 block of Mountain Road.

He was charged with murder Nov. 10, after police said tests showed the pistol was used to shoot Mrs. Valentine.

McLeod's attorneys are questioning those tests and want to have the gun retested. Frank Weathersbee, county state's attorney, said the gun and the reliability of the tests were not factors in his decision to drop the murder charge.

Mrs. Valentine's family has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.

"The whole thing's such a tedious process, at best," Ms. Lyons said. "It's just a matter of trying to be patient with the system."

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