Despite lack of body prosecutors obtain guilty plea in killing

In Alford plea, defendant acknowledges evidence, will get 25-year sentence

April 05, 2000|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

In a case that sounds like a pulp fiction novel, a Fort Howard man pleaded guilty yesterday to a 1994 slaying, even though Baltimore County prosecutors lacked a key piece of evidence:

The body.

Frederick Surguy, 38, entered an Alford plea in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday to second-degree murder for a slaying believed to be the county's first "no body" murder case.

As part of the Alford plea, Surguy does not admit guilt but acknowledges that the state has sufficient evidence to convict him. He will be given a 25-year sentence Monday.

Police say Surguy and Leonard Lacy tried to rob two men at gunpoint in 1994. Lacy was shot in the neck during the robbery attempt, and police said Surguy killed him and dumped his body in the Chesapeake Bay after Lacy pleaded for hospital treatment.

Surguy implicated himself in 1998 after he was convicted in an unrelated armed robbery and contacted police to cut a deal from prison, telling detectives he could help solve a murder "they didn't even know about," said S. Ann Brobst, assistant state's attorney.

Surguy pleaded guilty, although a police search of the bay never turned up Lacy's body. Police also had none of the victim's blood at the suspected murder scene -- the van used in the robbery attempt -- and had yet to establish that Lacy was dead.

But Brobst was confident she would have had little trouble winning a conviction in court.

Brobst said Surguy told several inmates at the Maryland Correctional Institution in Hagerstown about the slaying, and knew details only someone involved would know, such as that the van was stolen, contained a toolbox and had been hit in the door by gunfire.

Brobst said DNA tests showed that the blood in the van belonged to Surguy, who was shot in the left arm in the robbery attempt.

"All I can say is we had sufficient evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that not only was this death the result of foul play, but it was at the hands of the defendant," she said.

Surguy's lawyer, Ronald Kurland, declined to comment.

Brobst said the slaying occurred June 14, 1994, after Surguy and Lacy, armed with .45-caliber handguns, tried to rob two men who had withdrawn a large amount of cash from a bank in the 8800 block of Wise Ave. in Dundalk, Brobst said.

Surguy and Lacy pulled up to the men in the bank parking lot about 1 p.m. and one demanded the money, she said.

But the intended victims, Anthony Narutowicz of Dundalk and James Vadas of Bel Air, who ran a Dundalk check-cashing business, fired at the van with .38-caliber handguns, she said.

Surguy, who was behind the wheel, drove off. Lacy, who was 38 and lived in Baltimore, asked Surguy to take him to a hospital, saying he had been shot in the neck and couldn't move his legs.

But Brobst said Surguy feared that taking Lacy to a hospital would mean getting caught, so he shot and killed him.

The victim's family said they were satisfied with the plea agreement but upset that Surguy smiled as he chatted with his lawyers yesterday in court.

"I wish the best for Mr. Surguy and his family," said the Rev. Clifton Lacy, the victim's brother and a minister at Galilee Baptist Church on North Point Road in Dundalk. "But because of his demeanor I find it hard to forgive him. He seems like he doesn't want to be forgiven."

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