Slayings suspect denied bail Dean also told to curb phone )) calls from jail

September 26, 1997|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

A Carroll County judge refused to grant bail yesterday for a Hampstead man charged with the shotgun slayings of his former girlfriend and her date, then restricted the man's use of a jail pay phone because the dead woman's family complained about harassing calls.

Smith Harper Dean III, 38, has been held without bail at the Carroll County Detention Center since being arrested June 14 on two counts of first-degree murder and related charges.

Sharon Lee Mechalske, a 38-year-old mother of two, was found fatally shot in a bedroom of her home in the 4200 block of Wolf Hill Court about 1: 15 a.m. that day.

Kent Leonard Cullison, a 30-year-old Arcadia mail carrier, was found slumped in a pool of blood on the front porch of the house.

Dean had dated Mechalske for about a year until she broke off the relationship. She was on her second date with Cullison, Jerry F. Barnes, state's attorney for Carroll County, told Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. at yesterday's bail-review hearing.

Barnes opposed any bail, citing Dean's criminal record, which includes convictions on cocaine and handgun charges.

The serious nature of the charges and the intent of the state to seek the death penalty or life without parole if Dean is convicted are reasons enough not to grant bail, Barnes said.

Characterizing Dean as the jealous former boyfriend who acted in a vengeful rage, Barnes provided an account of how the defendant allegedly stalked Mechalske and Cullison, and threatened them at a Hampstead restaurant late the evening before they died.

The prosecutor then recounted the state's theory of how Dean went home, loaded a 12-gauge shotgun with five high-powered deer rifle slugs and went to Mechalske's home to "coldly and calculatingly execute them."

"Luckily, her two young children were not at home," Barnes said.

M. Gordon Tayback, a Baltimore attorney representing Dean, asked Burns to consider releasing his client on $100,000 bail, allowing him to live with his mother in Myrtle Beach, S.C., until his trial.

Barnes offered to play a tape recording of the 911 emergency call received by police from Mechalske, who locked herself in her bedroom after Dean broke into her home.

vTC Barnes said he wanted the court to hear the terror in her voice, the sound of the shotgun being fired, the click of someone hanging up the telephone.

Burns declined to listen to the recording but read a transcript of Mechalske's last moments.

Barnes also told the court that members of Mechalske's family had received calls from Dean and had described his tone as "surly." Barnes said some of the people called by Dean were potential witnesses in the state's case.

When Burns ordered that Dean not use the phone at the detention center -- to make or receive calls, except to speak with Tayback -- the attorney asked that his client also be allowed telephone access to Timothy X. Sokas, Tayback's associate, and to Dr. Neil H. Blumberg, a psychiatrist Tayback may use as a defense witness.

A Jan. 20 trial date has been set, but Tayback may file for a change in venue, getting the case moved to another county where potential jurors may not have read or heard about the case.

"If a change in venue is requested, it's automatic in a death-penalty case," Barnes said.

Tayback declined to comment.

Pub Date: 9/26/97

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