Jury is told slaying was planned

Teen on trial in killing at Hunt Valley restaurant

September 20, 2001|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The graphic details of how James Stambaugh Jr. was slain were spelled out yesterday to a Baltimore County jury being asked to convict one of his accused killers of first-degree murder.

In opening statements, Assistant State's Attorney Marsha Russell told jurors that Andre Lamont Lawson of Baltimore was one of three teens who entered the Burger King in Hunt Valley after closing Dec. 23.

She said they attacked the manager in the restaurant office, wrapped his entire face and wrists in duct tape and forced him outside.

"When they walked him out of that office, their intent was to beat him to death, and that's what they did," Russell told jurors.

C. Thomas Brown, Lawson's attorney, argued that the state's case for first-degree murder is based on testimony from a co-defendant whose credibility will be an issue in the trial.

Stambaugh, 21, of Towson was beaten on the head with a metal door-stop and a heavy kitchen tool and repeatedly stabbed near some trash containers, Russell said.

Russell asked jurors to convict Lawson of first-degree murder - along with robbery and conspiracy charges - because of the premeditation involved in the slaying.

"They went there that night with the evidence, they went there with a knife and the duct tape," she said.

Stambaugh was found the next morning outside the restaurant in the 11300 block of York Road. About $2,800 and the victim's car had been taken in the robbery.

Lawson, 17, is the second of four defendants charged in the slaying to be tried in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

William Frederick Jones, 17, Breon Carlo English, 16, and Courtney Darnell Bryant, 19, all of Baltimore, also were charged.

Jones, who worked at the Burger King, was acquitted by a jury Sept. 1 of felony murder and robbery, but convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery.

English pleaded guilty to felony murder before Judge Alexander Wright Jr. on May 3.

Russell told jurors yesterday that Lawson was identified as a suspect by Jones, the last employee to leave the restaurant that night.

She said that boots, sweatpants and a plastic bag with the victim's blood on them were found by police in Lawson's home and that when Lawson was confronted with the evidence, he confessed.

Brown, Lawson's attorney, said the state's case for first-degree murder is based on testimony from English, who Brown alleges "made a deal" with prosecutors.

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