Hancock man convicted in accidental gun death

September 27, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

A 45-year-old Hancock man was convicted of involuntary manslaughter yesterday in Anne Arundel Circuit Court for accidentally shooting his brother while the two men were playing with a handgun.

George S. Lockwood of the 14000 block of Tollgate Road could be sentenced to a maximum of 15 years in prison in the death of Eugene Lockwood, 50, of Deale.

Sentencing before Judge Warren B. Duckett Jr. is scheduled for Dec. 23.

Lockwood, a former laborer for a sprinkler installation company, also was convicted of reckless endangerment by a jury of seven women and five men who deliberated for 2 1/2 hours.

According to testimony in the three-day trial, the defendant took a .44-caliber Magnum from a bedroom of his girlfriend's house in the 5900 block of Second St., Deale, and playfully put it to his brother's head as the two men were sitting around the dining room table talking on Jan. 22.

Lockwood shot his brother once in the abdomen as he pulled the weapon away, according to testimony.

Eugene Lockwood died eight days later at Prince George's County Hospital Center.

Assistant public defender Carroll McCabe asked jurors yesterday to take into account the testimony of Lockwood's girlfriend, Jane Nicholson, who said the gun fired as the defendant was unloading it.

She added that Lockwood was so devastated by the shooting of his brother and "best friend" that he got "hysterical" afterward and could be heard talking to himself as he was being driven from the scene in a police car.

"He was hugging his brother, he was trying to save his brother's life. He was crying," she said.

But Lockwood admitted to police that he had been drinking that night, that he put the gun to his brother's head with the hammer cocked and jokingly said to him, "This is the most powerful handgun in the world and it will blow your head all over the wall. Do you want me to pull the trigger?"

In her closing argument yesterday, Assistant State's Attorney Nancy Harford agreed that the shooting was an accident. But she argued that Lockwood's conduct was "grossly negligent" and showed a "wanton and reckless disregard for human life," the legal standard for manslaughter.

She noted that Lockwood, a hunter and gun collector, was familiar with the weapon, knew how it would fire and hid it after the shooting in his girlfriend's clothes dryer.

She asked jurors to keep in mind the fate of the victim and made sure they got a long look at the menacing-looking handgun -- the same model used by Clint Eastwood in the movie "Dirty Harry" -- by taking it out from behind the court clerk's desk and putting it on a trial table within arm's reach of the jurors.

"Gene Lockwood can't be here today. He's dead. He's dead ZTC because his brother shot and killed him," she said.

After the verdict, Judge Duckett revoked Lockwood's $250,000 bond and ordered a presentencing investigation.

After watching Lockwood being led out of the courtroom in handcuffs, Mrs. Nicholson said she found the jury's verdict hard to understand and even harder to accept.

"It was an accident. George would never hurt his brother," she said. "I know he's just devastated by it all."

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