Key murder trial witness to testify

Prosecution hopes to link Jessup man with gun used in killing

September 21, 2001|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

A key witness in the trial of a Jessup man accused in a fatal shooting in a Columbia hotel is expected to testify this morning, with the defense and the prosecution depending on him to help make their cases.

The state is hoping that Lorence Smith, 22, will be able to link the weapon used in the shooting Jan. 13 to the accused. The defense hopes to prove that Smith could be a suspect.

The weapon, believed to be a .40-caliber Glock handgun, has not been recovered. But Smith is expected to testify that Shamal Ira Chapman, 21, who is accused of the shooting, told him that he got the gun during a burglary.

Chapman is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and related charges in the shooting at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

Long Reach High School senior Andre Devonne Corinaldi, 18, was killed and Lauren Nicole Perkins, 18, of Elkridge was seriously injured.

Chapman, of the 6700 block of Old Waterloo Road, is accused of shooting a gun through two closed doors between adjoining hotel rooms during a birthday party with about 20 to 40 guests, many of them uninvited.

The trial in Howard County Circuit Court, which began Tuesday, is expected to end by late next week.

Four shell casings recovered at the scene match casings from a Glock stolen from Chapman's neighbor, said Assistant State's Attorney Mary Murphy. Also, witnesses have told investigators that they saw Chapman carrying a black gun a week before the party, she said.

But the defense contends that Smith is the most likely person to have fired the shots at the hotel on Stanford Boulevard. While arguing before Judge James B. Dudley yesterday about appropriate questions for Smith, Assistant Public Defender Janette DeBoissiere explained that she believes Smith knew the details of the burglary in which the Glock was stolen because he committed it.

No arrests have been made in the Feb. 3, 2000, burglary.

In Tuesday's opening arguments, DeBoissiere told jurors that they would have to determine whether they believed Smith's story.

Dudley ruled yesterday that the defense cannot disclose that Smith has been charged in a Laurel burglary that DeBoissiere described as similar to the one in which the Glock was stolen.

Smith was not among the partygoers who were handcuffed by police at the shooting scene and questioned. But DeBoissiere said she will present witnesses who will testify they saw Smith at the party.

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