Glitch forces officials to drop weapons counts

New indictments due

Laney to be charged again

March 23, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A technical glitch forced Howard County prosecutors to temporarily drop weapons charges yesterday against Richmond C. Laney, an Ellicott City man accused of hoarding weapons and explosives in the basement of his home.

Laney, 43, a former Republican candidate for Howard County sheriff, was scheduled to go to trial Monday on explosives-weapons charges, but Deputy State's Attorney I. Matthew Campbell asked that the charges be dropped in a brief hearing before Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr.

Campbell said that the "characterization of one of the explosives" in the charges was "technically incorrect" and that Laney's defense attorney, Deputy District Public Defender Louis P. Willemin, would not agree to allow the indictment wording to be corrected. Campbell said new indictments will be presented to a grand jury as soon as possible so that Laney can be charged again. Meanwhile, the defendant will remain in jail, serving a term for contempt in a child-support case.

The weapons case began in July, when a property manager for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs went to Laney's house in the 3600 block of Fels Lane after a foreclosure and found grenades, a rocket launcher, a disassembled .50-caliber machine gun, and other weapons and explosives. Laney was in jail at the time for failure to pay child support.

In January, Laney lost a bid to move his trial out of Howard County. He had accused county judges of being biased against him.

Yesterday's hearing was scheduled to be an argument over another motion charging that the search leading to discovery of the weapons-explosives cache was illegal because Laney had not yet been evicted. That issue did not come up, however.

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