After 4 years, Maine woman sees man held in her son's death

January 28, 1998|By Michael James | Michael James,SUN STAFF

A mother's relentless hunt for justice moved into a Baltimore courtroom yesterday, where a Maine woman finally got her chance to see the man accused of killing her son in a 1993 mugging.

"I've been waiting four years and two months for this," said a tearful Yong Cha Jones, whose Korean heritage teaches that a slaying victim cannot rest until the killer is caught. "I want to see justice, for myself and for my son."

Prosecutors say it was James W. Langhorne who shot her 24-year-old son, Laurence A. Jones Jr., a Bangor, Maine, native who came to Baltimore hoping to enroll in the Johns Hopkins University's graduate psychology program. Preliminary motions began yesterday in Langhorne's trial in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Yong Jones' grief from her only son's death has been documented in dozens of letters she has written to newspapers, politicians, prosecutors, police and the president of the United States. She wrote many of the letters while her son's killing was unsolved, and in them she pleaded with people to respect her need to bring her son's soul to rest by finding the killer.

At one point yesterday, she broke down sobbing in the courtroom and had to be escorted into the hallway by a relative.

"Can you imagine? My poor son was kneeling down on the ground and they shot him anyway," she sobbed on a bench outside the courtroom, being consoled by her sister, Yong Im Chung. Both rode more than 12 hours to Baltimore by bus to attend the trial, which will last about a week.

Laurence Jones had been drinking at a nearby bar Nov. 20, 1993, and was walking to his home in the 1400 block of Bank St. when two men robbed him of a ring and his wallet, then shot him.

William A. Rice will be a key witness against Langhorne, a 24-year-old Woodlawn resident who said he used to work at a local McDonald's and Burke's restaurant downtown. Rice, 43, identified Langhorne yesterday as the man he saw running from the scene after Jones was shot.

After his arrest in 1996, Langhorne told police that he was being set up by "junkies and whores" who live at the Perkins Homes public housing project across the street from where Jones was killed, city Detective J. T. Brown wrote in a report.

Langhorne, who has convictions for drug and handgun violations, told the detective he had a girlfriend in the area. He said he often visited there, but denied he shot Jones.

Langhorne told Brown that he stopped carrying guns in 1992, after he had been arrested for carrying a handgun, the police report said. He was convicted of that charge in Baltimore Circuit Court and sentenced to 10 years. All but seven months of the sentence was suspended, court records showed.

Jury selection is expected to begin today.

Pub Date: 1/28/98

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