Grand jury may get case

Possible charges in fatal shooting of burglary suspect

`Complicated issues'

March 21, 2001|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

A grand jury likely will be asked to decide whether criminal charges should be filed against either of the brothers involved in the shooting of three burglary suspects, a Baltimore County assistant state's attorney said yesterday.

S. Ann Brobst, who is in charge of the case, said the incident was "extremely serious" and presents "a lot of complicated issues."

Brobst said that she will begin reviewing the case after homicide detectives complete their investigation, but that it could be weeks before a final decision is made.

"I think this is the type of thing we want a grand jury to review," Brobst said, noting that jurors likely would have to sift through "basic self-defense principles."

The incident occurred when at least one of the owners of the Back River Supply Inc., in the 12200 block of Owings Mills Blvd. in Glyndon, apparently shot three suspected burglars, one fatally, early Monday morning. The brothers - Dominic A. Geckle, 31, and Matthew J. Geckle, 36 - were keeping an all-night vigil with shotguns at the concrete plant, which had been burglarized twice during the weekend.

Baltimore County police have not identified the brothers, whose names were obtained by The Sun through public records. Neither one has a Maryland criminal record.

Jonathan B. Steinbach, 24, a businessman in Mount Vernon, died of gunshot wounds at the scene. Yesterday, Baltimore County police issued arrest warrants for the two wounded suspects.

Justin Storto, 21, of the 8700 block of Lisa Lane in Randallstown, is charged with one count of second-degree burglary. Storto was released from Maryland Shock Trauma Center late last night, a hospital official said. Police had said Storto would be arrested when he was released. Enrico L. Magliarella, 24, of the 600 block of St. Georges Station Road in Reisterstown, is charged with two counts of second-degree burglary.

Police allege that Magliarella stole tools from the plant Saturday morning and returned with Storto and Steinbach to burglarize the business Monday morning. Magliarella is also at Shock Trauma, where he is in critical condition.

Both Magliarella and Storto have been arrested on theft charges during the past year, according to court records.

Cpl. Vickie Warehime, a police spokeswoman, said police have found no evidence that links Steinbach to the two earlier burglaries. His mother and friends say Steinbach spent the weekend with his girlfriend.

"There [are] a lot of unanswered questions, and I want to get to the truth," said his mother, Janet Steinbach.

Steinbach said her son, who owned the Midtown Tanning Salon on Cathedral Street in Baltimore and who had no Maryland criminal record, used to be friends with Storto's older brother. She said Steinbach's girlfriend told her that Storto called her son at 10 p.m. Sunday at his West Biddle Street condominium and then picked him up.

According to police records, the brothers said they did not know any of the burglary suspects.

An autopsy was conducted on Jonathan Steinbach yesterday, but police and the state medical examiner's office refuse to say how many times or where he was shot. Emergency personnel at the scene said it appeared he was shot at least twice - in the abdomen and the head.

"Even if they were protecting property, I don't see why they had to take such extreme measures, especially with a shotgun," Janet Steinbach said. "They were just vultures, like vultures sitting there waiting for these kids. ... All I know is they were laying there waiting and didn't bother turning the lights on."

Warehime said yesterday that a preliminary investigation determined that no lights were on at the plant when the three men were shot. She also said police have not recovered any weapons - except the two shotguns linked to the brothers - from the scene.

Brobst said those issues, as well the concerns raised by Steinbach's mother, will factor into any grand jury investigation.

Legal scholars say the case could hinge upon how the "castle doctrine" is interpreted. The doctrine states that a person does not need to retreat from an intruder when in his own home, but it is not clear whether the principle applies to a place of business.

"A home in Maryland has an exalted status in terms of self-defense principle," Brobst said. "The business does not hold as high a status."

Brobst said the state's attorney's office has received several calls from residents with differing opinions on whether charges should be filed.

A spokesman for the Maryland Rifle and Pistol Association, the state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, said the organization supports the Geckle brothers.

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