Slain man's kin questions police action Father says officers might have prevented death

March 28, 1997|By Jill Hudson | Jill Hudson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Caitlin Francke contributed to this article.

The father of Marine Cpl. Andre D. Boone -- who will be buried with honors Monday afternoon at Arlington National Cemetery -- believes that Howard County police might have been able to prevent his son's slaying.

Boone, 23, was shot to death March 21 at the Columbia home of his stepfather, James Milton Harding Jr., an hour after another man called police to complain that he had been threatened by Harding.

That man, Sean Mease, told police that Harding had a gun in his house. Harding, a former Maryland state trooper and a former Howard County police recruit, has been charged in Boone's slaying.

"I feel as though the police should have investigated the call," said Boone's father, Andre Humphrey, a Baltimore pastor.

"I'm not suggesting that they should have gone over to Harding's house, kicked the door down and taken the gun," he said. But he suggested that police should have taken further action.

Harding is being held without bail at the Howard County Detention Center. Humphrey -- who often visited his son at the Harding home in Columbia -- painted a picture of Harding as a controlling, domineering man who was a "time bomb" since he was fired as a state trooper in 1994 after 18 months on the job.

"James used to be the one with the uniform, the power and the authority," Humphrey said, indicating that his son's rise in the Marine Corps may have been a source of family tension. "I think he just lost it every time he'd see Andre as the one with the uniform and the power now."

According to Howard County District Court records, Harding's wife, L'Net Harding, 40, was granted a four-month protective order after a 1994 domestic dispute. In her request for the order, she alleged that her husband punched her in the face and knocked out the cap of her tooth.

Harding later filed an appeal, though its disposition could not be determined yesterday.

Sgt. Steven Keller, a Howard County police spokesman, confirmed that police responded twice to domestic calls at the Harding home -- in August 1996 and in January of this year. No criminal charges were filed in either incident, and Keller would not release details of police response to the calls.

Keller said that police acted appropriately when they responded to Mease's 911 call March 21 by going to Mease's house in the 9300 block of Hickory Limb in east Columbia's Owen Brown village. Keller said the officer did not have sufficient reason to confront Harding at his home, in east Columbia's Kings Contrivance village -- where the alleged incident involving Mease occurred and where Boone was shot to death an hour later.

"Follow-up calls depend on the circumstances that are outlined during the report," Keller said. "If an assault occurred, if he [Mease] had been threatened, or if a gun had been pointed at him, we would have followed up.

"When no crime occurs," Keller said, "it's not necessary to follow up because nothing has happened."

A memorial service for Boone -- who had just been named to an elite Marine Corps post guarding the White House -- was held Wednesday at the Marine Barracks in Washington, attended by family, friends and White House representatives.

Family members said that they expected a White House representative at the Monday burial at Arlington, though the White House could not confirm this.

Humphrey said: "My son had a beautiful life ahead of him, and now nothing can bring him back."

Pub Date: 3/28/97

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