Harney indicted on murder charge

January 20, 1995|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Sun Staff Writer

The man accused of killing his estranged wife and fleeing Maryland with their two young sons last month was indicted on a first-degree murder charge yesterday by a Howard County grand jury.

Prosecutors have not decided if they will seek the death penalty for Daniel Scott Harney, 40, who is accused of killing Shirley Scott Harney, 41, at her Ellicott City home Dec. 26.

"We have not had any of those discussions," Deputy State's Attorney Les Gross said. "Obviously, that's a decision we still have to make."

Mr. Harney also was indicted in the attempted murder of William Helmbold, 45, a Woodlawn man who was shot in his right arm during the incident.

Mr. Gross declined to say what evidence was presented to the grand jury, but a police report filed in court provides the first details of what investigators say happened the night Mrs. Harney was killed.

Mr. Harney, a financial administrator at Westinghouse Corp., had picked up his sons -- Ryan, 8, and Paul, 10 -- at his estranged wife's home Dec. 26 for a prearranged holiday visit.

While the boys slept at his Owings Mills home, police said, Mr. Harney went back to Mrs. Harney's house in the 5000 block of Brampton Parkway and broke in through a basement window shortly before 9:30 p.m.

The police report says that Mr. Harney confronted Mrs. Harney and Mr. Helmbold in a bedroom, striking and shooting them. Mr. Harney then went to the living room, with Mrs. Harney and Mr. Helmbold following him.

Mr. Harney grabbed Mrs. Harney and forced her to go outside, the documents say. He is charged with shooting her, then running over her as he fled in his car. Her body was dragged to the end of her driveway.

With yesterday's indictment, the 23-member grand jury determined that the State's Attorney's Office has "probable cause" to prosecute Mr. Harney in first-degree murder, assault with intent to murder, two counts of attempted murder and three weapons violations.

Although Mr. Harney left the state with his two sons after his wife was killed, he will not be charged with kidnapping the children, a charge that may have been difficult to prove because Mr. Harney had custody of the boys during the holidays.

For 12 days after the shooting, authorities were able to trace part of the path Mr. Harney took his sons by monitoring the use of his credit cards and withdrawals he made from bank machines.

Police learned Mr. Harney had taken the boys to Walt Disney World in Florida, but later lost track of the three of them.

Mr. Harney was arrested in Charlotte, N.C., on Jan. 7, when a woman at an employment agency where he had asked about a job called police after seeing his picture in a commercial for "America's Most Wanted," a crime show that featured his case.

The Harneys, who moved to Howard County in 1985, separated in July. Their sons are now living with Mr. Harney's parents in McLean, Va.

Mr. Harney's mother, Lucille, yesterday declined to comment on the case, saying only that she and the boys are doing "fine."

The indictment transfers Mr. Harney's case from Howard District Court to the county's Circuit Court, where he can seek a jury trial. A court date for Mr. Harney has not been set.

Mr. Harney is being held without bail at the county Detention Center.

The Harney case is being handled by Senior Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill, a former Carroll County prosecutor who was hired by State's Attorney Marna McLendon this month. Ms. McLendon was elected state's attorney in November.

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