Man, 23, charged in Jan. shooting

Alert detective links case to rape suspect

September 15, 2000|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Marie Wallis was watching television when she was shot in the back of the head through her family room window in Harwood in January - an unusually violent incident for the rural, south county neighborhood and even more baffling because police couldn't identify any suspects who might have wanted to harm the 24-year-old woman.

Anne Arundel County Detective Bob Aurand didn't forget the case, even though he wasn't investigating it.

When he saw a case of .22-caliber ammunition - the same kind used in the Jan. 3 shooting - in the bedroom of a suspect police were arresting and charging in April in the rape of a medical worker in Harwood, he seized it, suspecting there might be a link.

An FBI ballistics comparison showed a match, county police announced yesterday.

William Matthew Donley, 23, in jail on the rape charges, was charged with attempted murder, assault and related weapons violations Wednesday in the January shooting, police said.

Donley, a resident of the 4500 block of Owensville Sudley Road, is being held without bail at the county Detention Center on Jennifer Road in Annapolis.

He is awaiting trial on charges of first- and second-degree rape, assault with intent to murder and first-degree assault in the attack on the medical worker, who was choked unconscious and raped as she walked from a doctor's office to her car late Jan. 11.

On the night of the assault, a county police dog team followed a trail through a wooded area behind the Primary Care Center to Owensville Sudley Road. Police said investigators later identified several suspects in the area, based on criminal histories, and matched a DNA sample from Donley to evidence from the attack.

Donley had been released from state prison in January after serving a five-year sentence for manslaughter and reckless endangerment. He pleaded guilty in 1996 to driving a car while an accomplice threw a rock from it, causing a crash that killed a 38-year-old contractor from Deale.

Initially, Donley was sentenced to an eight years in prison in the death of Kevin Michael Gallagher, a father of three, but the sentence was shortened, despite objections from Gallagher's widow and the prosecutor.

Wallis, who has since moved from Harwood, could not be reached for comment yesterday. Police said her former house, in the 4600 block of Owensville Sudley Road, is too far off the road for the shooting to have been a drive-by.

It would have been unusual and illegal for a hunter to have been shooting game near midnight. The area is rural farmland with each house on at least 2 acres, neighbors said.

Wallis told police she felt something hit the back of her head, put her hand to it and saw blood. She yelled for her husband, who had gone to bed, to call paramedics, police said. She was flown to Maryland Shock Trauma Center, where she was treated and released.

Although no weapon was recovered, the FBI made the match by comparing the chemical components of the bullets, Ravenell said.

"The investigator did an excellent job in recognizing the ammunition might be connected to the [shooting]," said Officer Charles Ravenell, a county police spokesman. "Even though it's been eight months, it goes to show our investigators are always working."

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