Teen-ager gets life term for killing a rival suitor

January 24, 1995|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

A 17-year-old Lansdowne youth was sentenced to a life in prison yesterday for shooting to death a rival suitor as he sat in his car and begged for his life.

Mark Anthony Wheelton was sentenced by Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Martin A. Wolff, who called the slaying of Raymond Childress IV "a horrible crime. Horrible for the families of the victim, as well as for the families of the defendant."

In sentencing Wheelton, Judge Wolff said he considered the defendant's lack of remorse as well as trial testimony establishing that the murder was premeditated.

Mr. Childress, 19, of the 1200 block of Montgomery Drive in Glen Burnie was shot once in the head May 16, moments after he dropped off a date at the end of a night of church bingo.

The woman, Kelly Parks, 18, of Glen Burnie, had broken off her relationship with Wheelton about a month before the murder.

Wheelton, of the 3200 block of Gorham Court, was arrested the day after the murder when a friend who witnessed the shooting, Christopher Suter, 21, of Lansdowne, reported it to police.

In a statement to police, Wheelton admitted that he walked up to Mr. Childress about 11 p.m. at Hammerlee Road and Sunset Drive in Glen Burnie and fired one shot at Mr. Childress' head with a .25-caliber handgun he had borrowed from a friend.

But Wheelton testified at his trial in November that it was Mr. Suter who threatened Mr. Childress with the gun. The gun went off accidentally as he tried to grab it away from Mr. Suter, he testified.

The victim's mother, Melanie Thompson, said yesterday that she was most upset by the fact that her son begged Wheelton for his life just before he was shot.

"If I could've taken that bullet for my son that night I would have," Ms. Thompson told a packed courtroom, choking back tears.

William Wheelton, the defendant's father, said afterward that he was just as sorry as anyone.

"I want to apologize to the family, to the Childress family. It's been hard on everyone, and I want them to know that my wife couldn't be today here because it's been so hard on her," he said.

James McCarthy, an assistant public defender, said yesterday that he is requesting a new trial because of information he obtained after the verdict that could support Wheelton's claim.

Mr. McCarthy said a police detective told a county grand jury about a month after the murder that he was still interviewing witnesses and "receiving new information about Suter's involvement all the time."

Mr. McCarthy said he also wants a court order requiring the police to turn over a list of the all those they interviewed who might support his client's claims that the gun went off accidentally. Assistant State's Attorney Michael O. Bergeson said Mr. Suter's involvement is still being investigated but declined to elaborate.

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