Runion convicted in slaying Judge cites 'disregard for life' in 2nd-degree murder conviction

June 12, 1996|By TaNoah Morgan | TaNoah Morgan,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel County judge convicted an 18-year-old Glen Burnie man yesterday of second-degree murder, saying he showed "a disregard for human life" when he shot a 14-year-old Pasadena girl at point-blank range with a .45-caliber handgun last January.

Raphael DeVonde Runion III of the 400 block of Hiddenbrook Drive, who said he did not know the gun was loaded, also was convicted of using a handgun in the commission of a felony in the three-hour, nonjury trial.

He could receive a maximum of 20 years on each count when he is sentenced Aug. 30.

"The damning thing is cocking the weapon," Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. said before announcing his verdict. "Either he was doing it to make sure the gun was unloaded or he wasn't. Cocking the weapon and then firing it shows a disregard for human life."

Runion was convicted of killing Stacy Lynn Granruth Jan. 16 after she, William Richardson and Alana Buckingham went to Runion's home to look at a gun that Runion wanted to sell to Richardson's father.

Richardson testified yesterday that he checked the silver Colt .45, saw that it was unloaded, saw that it had no serial numbers and handed it back to Runion. Richardson said he thought Runion was putting the gun back into his closet when he saw him cock the weapon, release the ammunition clip and point the gun at Granruth. Richardson said that he had not seen Runion loading the ammunition clip before cocking the gun.

"He said, 'Do you really want to see me scare the s--- out of her?' and he pulled the trigger," Richardson testified.

In a written statement to police read in court, Runion said that after he fired the weapon he saw a hole in the wall and thought he missed Granruth until he saw her blood. He said he wrapped her body in bed clothing, put it in his car trunk and dumped it atop a hill in woods near Dorsey Road. Richardson and Buckingham, meanwhile, had left the apartment and called police.

Rodney C. Warren, Runion's lawyer, argued that his client should be convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter because he did not intend to kill Granruth, nor did he know enough about guns to realize there was a round in the chamber.

"It was the assault -- it was the intent to frighten -- that was a crime," Mr. Warren said. "For there to be a disregard of life, there would have to be some element of viciousness. He doesn't have a lot of knowledge about guns. The issue in respect to the idea of viciousness was whether he knew a round was in the chamber."

But prosecutor Nancy Harford argued that cocking the weapon showed disregard for life.

"If he had not pulled the slide back, that might be manslaughter, but the fact is that he took some action," she said. "There was an awareness that some action took place to change the condition of the gun from the time it was handed to Mr. Richardson to the time he [Runion] fired it. We don't have an accidental discharge here."

Stacy's parents, Joanne and Robert Granruth, said they were pleased that Runion was convicted of the more serious charge.

But Raphael Runion Jr., the defendant's father, said he felt his son deserved the lesser charge because the shooting was unintentional.

Pub Date: 6/12/96

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