Victim was gravely wounded, doctor testifies Retrial under way in 1993 killing related to drugs

November 02, 1995|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF

Gregory Lamont Howard was pronounced dead minutes after he was taken to Carroll County General Hospital on a January night, wounded by a close-range shotgun blast to his chest, an emergency room doctor told jurors hearing the retrial of Timothy Cumberland yesterday.

Nothing could have been done to save Mr. Howard, said Dr. Roger M. Stone, an emergency room physician. He told the jury of 10 men and four women that he and another surgeon performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on Mr. Howard, inserted a breathing tube and started an intravenous lifeline Jan. 28, 1993.

Police say the 22-year-old man was trying to act as peacemaker when Mr. Cumberland and three friends went to Center Street in Westminster looking for the person who sold them soap flakes instead of crack cocaine.

"He [Mr. Howard] had sustained a very grave injury to the heart and the large airway that passes to the heart," Dr. Stone testified. "The heart was not a closed chamber anymore. It was not able to be repaired."

This is the second time a Carroll County jury has considered whether Mr. Cumberland, 25, was responsible for Mr. Howard's death. Mr. Cumberland, who did not shoot the fatal blast, own the weapon or drive the getaway car, was convicted in February 1994 of first-degree murder in Mr. Howard's death.

The verdict was over turned in March.

Appellate judges decided that Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr.'s answer to a question about the meaning of intent in first-degree murder was misleading and confusing. Jurors in that trial had asked whether Mr. Cumberland's de-sire for revenge over the bad drug deal could be considered intent.

Prosecutors have said in both trials that Mr. Howard, who didn't know Mr. Cumberland or his friends until minutes before his death, had nothing to do with the initial drug deal.

"On that evening, they killed Greg Howard and sped off on that cold January night. He got in the way of this man's [Mr. Cumberland's] anger," prosecutor Clarence W. Beall III said during opening statements Tuesday.

Mr. Beall said the defendant led his friends to buy the cocaine, jumped out of the car swinging the shotgun like a club when he was cheated, then took charge of getting rid of the weapon after Mr. Howard was killed.

"This was a drug-related killing, the first in Carroll County," Mr. Beall said. "This man [Mr. Cumberland] was the ringleader. He called the shots and he caused Greg Howard's death."

Assistant Public Defender Judson K. Larrimore, however, insisted Tuesday that Mr. Howard was partially responsible for his death.

Mr. Larrimore told jurors during opening statements that Mr. Howard had reached inside the car and pulled on the shotgun while talking to the occupants.

The shotgun, which was cocked by pulling on the stock and barrel, went off accidentally in the hands of Mr. Cumberland's companion, Samuel Allen Miller.

"He [Mr. Howard] was all over the window, struggling to try and take that shotgun away," Mr. Larrimore said. "No one intended for Mr. Howard to be killed."

Mr. Cumberland's co-defendants, Miller and Daniel Justin Leonard, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in September 1993. Leonard, who owned the shotgun and is serving 10 years in state prison, testified yesterday. Miller, who fired the fatal shot, is serving 30 years.

Mr. Cumberland rejected a similar plea deal.

The fourth occupant of the car, Robin Debra Cherry, committed suicide in 1993, less than a week after Mr. Cumberland was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the initial murder conviction.

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