Man who killed ex-wife's friend in Jessup gets life

March 26, 1995|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Sun Staff Writer

A Virginia businessman who shot his then-ex-wife's boyfriend six times at a Jessup hotel nearly four years ago was sentenced Friday to life in prison.

Howard County Circuit Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr. sentenced 47-year-old Adel George Hagez of Richmond to life in prison for first-degree murder and three years for use of a handgun in the commission of a felony in the June 22, 1991, killing of Riad S. Hijaz, his third cousin.

He will be eligible for parole in 15 years.

Before the judge imposed the sentence, Hagez stood with his hands in front of him and told the judge, "This tragedy has really hit home in more ways than one."

The past four years, he said, have been painful for him, his family and friends. "I believe in the supreme power of God, the supreme architect of the universe," he said before asking the judge to consider a lighter sentence.

"I just can't, Mr. Hagez, when you took another life," Judge Sybert said. "The supreme being you talk about brought him into this world."

After the judge imposed the sentence, the courtroom -- filled with more than 20 of Hagez's friends and family members -- was silent.

Hagez was convicted of first-degree murder in May 1993 in the slaying of Mr. Hijaz in his then-ex-wife's room at the Holiday Inn on U.S. 1. Virginia Dorhan Hagez, from whom he was divorced three months earlier, witnessed the killing, a prosecutor said.

Police said Mr. Hijaz was Mrs. Hagez's boyfriend, but she told police the day of the murder that the two were not romantically involved.

The prosecutor said Hagez, who operated four restaurants with his wife, came to the county to kill Mr. Hijaz. Mrs. Hagez was in the county to operate a food stand at the Columbia Fair.

When Mrs. Hagez answered a knock at her hotel room door, Hagez forced his way in using the butt of his Colt .357-caliber Magnum revolver, the prosecutor said. He fired three shots at Mr. Hijaz, then three more at close range.

Four days before Hagez's trial, the divorced couple remarried in the county detention center. But Judge Sybert called the marriage a sham, saying Mrs. Hagez, a witness to the shooting, remarried Hagez to avoid testifying against him. Witnesses generally don't have to testify against their spouses.

When Mrs. Hagez refused to testify as a prosecution witness in May 1993, the judge ordered her to take the witness stand. When she refused to answer any of the prosecution's questions, Judge Sybert found her in contempt of court, which in Maryland carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Friday, he sentenced Mrs. Hagez to a 30-day suspended sentence on those contempt charges. She was jailed for about a week before and during the trial because the prosecution thought she might flee the country.

At the sentencing Friday, Hagez's defense attorneys, William H. Murphy and Samuel A. Abady, tried to argue for a 10-year sentence, saying the killing was not premeditated.

"This was a crime of passion," Mr. Abady said. "We're not dealing with a shooter who was thinking about the crime, we're dealing with an emotional action."

Mr. Murphy said in one moment, jealousy, disappointment and betrayal overcame Hagez. "This is a crime of generosity, unrequited generosity," he said.

Before the sentence was imposed, family and friends told the judge how giving and caring Hagez was.

But Senior Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage painted a different picture of Hagez: a cold-blooded murderer.

"This is not manslaughter, there was no provocation, this was murder," she said.

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