Witness says she saw gun drawn

She claims defendant had weapon before fatal hotel shooting

`Please don't shoot'

September 25, 2001|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The key witness in the trial of a Jessup man accused of a fatal hotel shooting in Columbia testified yesterday that she saw the defendant draw a black gun from his jacket pocket and cock it just before the shooting happened.

Tanette McMillan, 19, said she was standing near the closed doors adjoining the two rooms where a party was being held at the Courtyard by Marriott when Shamal Ira Chapman told her, "Step out of the way."

She said Chapman then pulled out the gun, and she said, "Please don't shoot," and then ran to the front desk for help.

Chapman is accused of shooting through the adjoining doors in the Jan. 13 incident that killed Long Reach High School senior Andre Devonne Corinaldi, 18, and seriously injured Lauren Nicole Perkins, 18, of Elkridge.

The state concluded its case yesterday in the Howard County Circuit Court trial, where Chapman, of the 6700 block of Old Waterloo Road, is facing charges of first-degree murder, attempted murder and related charges.

McMillan said that during the surprise birthday party - which she organized for her friend at the hotel on Stanford Boulevard - she separated a group of partygoers between the two rooms because they were arguing.

She said that while she was in the room with Chapman, someone was banging on the adjoining door from the other side. Chapman, who was standing in the bathroom facing the doors, told McMillan, "Let him in, shorty, let him in."

McMillan later identified Chapman, who she did not know before the party, in a photo lineup.

Assistant Public Defender Rodney Gray questioned McMillan about her certainty of the gun she saw, asking if she noticed any numbers or words on the gun or if she knew the color of the trigger or barrel.

McMillan, who said she is not familiar with guns, did not know that information.

The murder weapon, believed to be a .40-caliber Glock handgun, was not recovered. However, the four cartridge casings recovered at the scene match casings from a Glock that was stolen from Chapman's neighbor in February 2000. No arrests have been made in that incident.

The neighbor, Michael Dilsaver, testified yesterday that he kept the casings because he was planning to reload them, a cheaper alternative to buying more bullets.

As one of the first witnesses for the defense, Douglas Shaffer, a forensic chemist for the Maryland State Police, testified yesterday that gunpowder residue tests on Chapman's clothes showed inconclusive results for one jacket pocket, while the rest of the jacket and his shirt tested negative for residue.

Shaffer said that two party guests - Larry Wade, who was in the hotel room from which the gun was fired, and Julian Benjamin, who was in the room into which the shots were fired - tested positive for gunpowder residue on their hands. He said a positive result means the person was in an environment where the residue was present.

However, Shaffer said it would be unlikely for the residue to be pulled through two doors.

"I've never heard of that type of situation," he said.

The state is expected to cross examine Shaffer today.

Jennifer Sanders of West Virginia testified yesterday that after the shooting she saw two people quickly leave the scene in a white car. She was staying on the second floor of the hotel when she heard yelling and looked out her window onto the hotel parking lot.

Sanders said she saw a woman standing by a white car and a man running away from the car and returning after the woman said something. The woman and the man then left in the white car "before anyone else," she said.

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