Prosecutors won't seek death penalty for man charged in killing of 2 clerks

March 04, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Havre de Grace man accused of fatally shooting two Aberdeen convenience store clerks in 1999 will not face the death penalty when he is tried March 12 by a Baltimore County judge.

On Friday, prosecutors withdrew the death notice filed last year against Waylon Tenoco Wesley, 27, charged with first-degree murder in the killings of Melissa Pennington, 18, and Nancy Atkinson, 30, both of Aberdeen.

Harford County Assistant State's Attorney Vernon M. Gentile said the decision was reached after a review of the evidence and discussions with the victims' relatives. Gentile said that state and federal appellate reviews of death cases can take years and that he is reluctant to subject the victims' families to that process - and the possibility Wesley's conviction could be reversed.

The victims were shot March 1, 1999, during an attempted robbery at the Wawa Food Market in the 200 block of N. Philadelphia Road, where they worked.

Investigators focused on Wesley after an acquaintance, Nicoma A. Nordine, told police that Wesley confessed to him, court records show. Nordine taped four hours of conversations with Wesley in exchange for the dismissal of various charges. The case, moved to Baltimore County at Wesley's request, will be heard by Circuit Judge Kathleen G. Cox.

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