Larry M. Brown, witness in 1990 assault case, dies two months after recanting his testimony

June 16, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Larry Michael Brown, who recently recanted sworn statements that helped convict an Annapolis man of the beating of a restaurateur in 1990 in a high-profile case, died yesterday.

Brown, 44, of Annapolis, told The Sun in April that he had lied to save himself from the prospect of serving up to 20 years in prison in his drug case. He was soon convicted of a probation violation and sentenced to eight years, but served less and was paroled.

The cause of Brown's death was not reported. Funeral arrangements were incomplete.

Last week, after spending a month turning away Anne Arundel County prosecutors and lawyers for the man he helped convict, Brown agreed to speak with one of the defense lawyers. Carroll L. McCabe said Brown told her the same thing he had told The Sun. But he refused to talk to prosecutors.

In 1992, Brown's testimony helped convict Brady G. Spicer, 42, of assault with intent to murder Francis "Bones" Denvir, owner of Armadillo's restaurant in Annapolis, on Feb. 22, 1990.

In December, U.S. District Judge Peter J. Messitte in Baltimore ruled that the trial had been unfair and overturned that conviction, ordering prosecutors to retry Spicer within four months or free him. The ruling is being appealed.

Spicer, who has served about 7 1/2 years of a 30-year prison sentence, maintains that he is innocent.

Messitte said all three witness identifications in the case were weak, but he singled out Brown as probably having changed his story to transform himself into an important witness to win probation.

Last week, with his health failing, Brown told McCabe he wanted to clear his conscience.

"The story about him [Brady G. Spicer] running past the Market House and I was coming out the back door, that was fabricated," Brown told The Sun while he was a patient in an Annapolis-area nursing home.

Spicer expressed sympathy for Brown's family and said he was grateful to them for helping arrange Brown's meeting with McCabe. "It helped me a great deal, emotionally, to know he was trying to get the truth out," he said.

What use Spicer's lawyers can make of Brown's recanting is unclear.

Defense attorney Nancy M. Cohen said she will try to reopen Spicer's post-conviction hearing in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court on other grounds. "We are certainly going to use it, but we have to be creative," she said.

At a post-conviction hearing, police testified for Spicer, an investigator from the state's attorney's office expressed doubts, and a new lawyer argued that Spicer did not fit the physical description of Denvir's attacker and was unable to run because of a knee injury. The conviction was upheld.

This year, two judges turned down plea agreements to free Spicer.

Pub Date: 6/16/99

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