Murder trial penalty phase hears tape Jurors deciding fate of man who shot trooper

June 27, 1996|By Dail Willis | Dail Willis,SUN STAFF

EASTON — An article in yesterday's editions of The Sun incorrectly identified the driver of a car involved in death of state Trooper Edward A. Plank Jr. Ivan Lovell was driving the car stopped by the trooper in October.

The Sun regrets the error.

EASTON -- A crowded courtroom listened yesterday to a tape of the anguished voice of a Maryland state trooper as he called for help after his partner, Trooper Edward A. Plank Jr., lay dying on a Somerset County highway.

The tape was the prosecution's most dramatic witness yesterday during the sentencing phase of the trial of Ivan Lovell, the 25-year-old North Carolina man who pleaded guilty to shooting Plank during a traffic stop last October.


"Officer shot! Officer shot! Helicopter if possible!" Trooper Dennis Lord said on the tape. As it played, Lord sat on the witness stand, head bowed and hands clasped. Directly across from him, the parents of Plank wept and his widow also bowed her head.

The prosecution is seeking the death penalty for Lovell, who shot Plank in the face during the traffic stop. Although there was no trial because Lovell pleaded guilty, a jury of 12 Talbot County citizens must decide whether he gets life in prison or the death penalty.

Testimony began yesterday afternoon after 2 1/2 days of jury selection. Both sides gave brief opening statements, and then Somerset State's Attorney Logan C. Widdowson, called witnesses.

The first was Cindy Standish, 21, of Elizabeth City, N.C., who testified that she and another woman went to New York with Lovell and his cousin, William Lynch, on Oct. 14 to shop for clothes and cocaine.

She and Lovell went in one car, she said, and Lynch and the other woman took a second car. The next evening, the two women decided to return to North Carolina. The drug buy wasn't going as planned, she said, and both needed to be at work the next day. So they left in one car, leaving Lynch and Lovell to complete the drug purchase.

Cpl. Mike Lewis of the Maryland State Police testified that he found three packages of cocaine -- two crack and one powder -- in a bag in Lovell's car. The three packages weighed 379 grams, Lewis said, and he estimated the street value at about $63,000.

Lord testified that he and Plank were working the 11 p.m.-to-7 a.m. shift Oct. 17.

"We decided to work radar together," Lord said. Shortly after 12: 30 a.m., they set up the monitor on U.S. 13 South. When the red Plymouth driven by Lynch sped past, Plank's radar showed it was traveling at 74 mph.

"He said, 'I'll take this one,' " Lord recalled. Plank pulled Lovell over, asked for his driver's license and took it back to the car to check it, he said. When he returned to the Lovell vehicle, Lord said, the driver shot him.

"I saw a muzzle flash and heard a shot," Lord said. "Trooper Plank fell to the ground. I pulled my service revolver out and returned fire. I saw an arm coming out of the car towards me and saw a flash and heard a gunshot."

Lord fired several more shots, he said, before the car sped south on U.S. 13. Lovell was captured within hours; Lynch the next day.

Pub Date: 6/27/96

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