Man, 18, convicted of felony murder

Also found guilty of handgun violation, armed robbery attempt

Victim killed as he tried to flee

Pittman to face life without parole during sentencing Nov. 14

September 07, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An 18-year-old man was convicted of felony murder yesterday in the killing of a father of five who was shot as he tried to flee during a robbery last year in Essex.

Robert J. Pittman of the 1600 block of Eastern Ave. also was convicted in Baltimore County Circuit Court of attempted armed robbery and a handgun violation.

The jury of eight men and four women deliberated about three hours.

Pittman showed no emotion as the verdict was announced, but clutched a Bible that he kept throughout the trial and began to cry as he was escorted from the courtroom by sheriff's deputies.

The victim's mother cried softly, expressing relief over the outcome of the trial and gratitude to prosecutors.

"We had good lawyers," said Friedaricka Congdon. "Now I have to go home and tell the children."

Pittman was convicted in the killing of Allen Sampson, 34, who was shot in the chest about 1 a.m. May 31, 2000, in the 1600 block of Rickenbacker Road in the Village of Tall Trees.

Pittman will face a sentence of life without the possibility of parole when he is sentenced Nov. 14 by Judge John O. Hennegan.

Hennegan sentenced an accomplice, Curtis Love, 21, of Essex, to life plus 15 years Jan. 9 after he admitted shooting Sampson and pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and a handgun violation.

Prosecutors told jurors during a two-day trial that under Maryland law, Pittman is as guilty of felony murder as Love because they planned the robbery together and Pittman participated in it.

"They got a loaded gun, and they went out looking for an easy mark," Assistant State's Attorney Rachel Cogen told jurors in closing arguments.

Cogen told jurors that Pittman was charged with attempted armed robbery because police were unsure if any money was taken during the attack.

Angela Carson, 41, of Essex, testified that she and Sampson, whom she had met that night, were on the street talking about going for a beer just before he was shot.

Pittman and Love approached moments after Sampson pulled cash out of his pocket, she testified.

Love pointed a revolver at Sampson and Pittman grabbed Sampson from behind, she said. When Sampson refused to turn over his money, the three began to struggle, she said.

"They were struggling, I assume trying to get at his money," Carson testified.

Sampson broke free and was shot as he tried to flee, she told jurors.

John Getz, Pittman's lawyer, argued that his client participated in the robbery because he was afraid of Love.

Pittman gave a taped statement to county police detectives claiming that he was worried Love would shoot him if he didn't help with the robbery.

"He was placed in fear for his own personal safety," Getz told jurors in closing arguments. "He got in a situation where he was in over his head."

But Assistant State's Attorney Dean Stocksdale told jurors that Pittman could have fled the scene before the robbery.

Police found the gun under Pittman's mattress and dozens of bullets in his home, Stocksdale said.

"He interjected himself into this crime," he said.

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