Prosecutor seeks murder conviction in slaying at bar He tells jury defendant shot man to settle dispute

September 27, 1996|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 36-year-old Glen Burnie man used a pistol to settle a minor squabble between friends outside a Ritchie Highway tavern in April and should be convicted of murder, a prosecutor told an Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury yesterday.

Michael Wayne Lovelace of the 8100 block of Harold Court fired six shots at a man who had been involved in an argument earlier, hitting the man in the head, back, leg, stomach and chest, said Assistant State's Attorney John LeCornu.

"There's no doubt about who was shooting, what he was shooting, what got hit. That's not in dispute in this case,"" LeCornu told the jury.

Philip H. Armstrong, Lovelace's lawyer, said that the victim, George Joseph Miller, 48, was threatening Lovelace with a pool cue and that Lovelace feared for his life, making it a case of manslaughter and not first-degree murder.

Miller died outside the Crossroads Tavern in the 7400 block of Ritchie Highway shortly after 2 a.m. April 1, according to testimony.

Lovelace is on trial before Judge Pamela L. North on first-degree murder and handgun charges in the death.

In opening statements yesterday, LeCornu said Lovelace saw Miller get into an argument with a woman hours before the shooting, then leave the bar. Lovelace then became acquainted with the woman, identified as Ruth Blair, and her two companions while they remained in the bar, LeCornu said.

They all left the bar at closing, and Lovelace saw Miller approach Blair as she was getting into her car. Lovelace got a .22-caliber pistol from his 1992 Ford Explorer, shot Miller and sped off, LeCornu told jurors.

"This is where the witnesses are going to testify that George Miller drew his last breath, lying right there," LeCornu said, using a wooden pointer to draw attention to a large, color photograph of the bloodied victim sprawled on his back, a pool cue lying next to him.

Armstrong said a psychiatrist will testify that Lovelace hates "victimization," tends to aid those in trouble and has a subconscious fear of pool cues since a 1984 incident in $l Baltimore Highlands when his best friend's brother was killed with a pool cue.

He said Lovelace is married, had no criminal record before the shooting, had recently become disabled by a serious back injury and began carrying the pistol only after a mugging near his home. At the time of the shooting, he was training for a job as a computer repair technician at Anne Arundel Community College, said.

"Let's not make one tragedy into two tragedies," Armstrong said.

The case is expected to go to the jury of eight men and four women late next week.

Pub Date: 9/27/96

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