Single-suspect theory attacked in trial

Chapman in group where shots were fired, witness says

September 26, 2001|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The defense yesterday attacked the idea that a 21-year-old defendant in a murder trial was the only likely suspect in a fatal Columbia hotel shooting.

On Monday, the star prosecution witness said she saw Shamal Ira Chapman, the accused, pull out a gun moments before shots were fired.

But Shem Lumsden, 18, testified for the defense yesterday that he did not see a gun when he observed about six people run out of the hotel room's bathroom, where the shooter apparently stood.

He testified that the bathroom light was off and that a lamp and television were the only sources of light in the room.

A gun was never found after the shooting Jan. 13 at a birthday party at the Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Stanford Boulevard. The trial in Howard County Circuit Court began last week.

Chapman is accused in the fatal shooting and a wounding at the party, where four bullets were fired through two closed doors between adjoining hotel rooms. Long Reach High School senior Andre Devonne Corinaldi, 18, was killed, and Lauren Nicole Perkins, 18, of Elkridge was seriously injured.

During cross-examination by the state, Lumsden said he saw someone who looked like Chapman near the bathroom area pacing with his hands in his pockets.

Lumsden's version of events could dispute the testimony of Tanette McMillan, 19, who said she saw Chapman draw a gun in the bathroom and then tell her to move out of the way. McMillan was standing in front of the adjoining doors, facing the bathroom, she testified.

Lumsden went to the party with Corinaldi, his friend since sixth grade. He testified that after the shooting he ran out of the hotel room, jumping over Corinaldi's body - not knowing it was his friend - and later came back to check on him.

Lumsden said he felt conflicted about testifying at the trial because of his friendship with the defendant's family. When Assistant Public Defender Rodney Gray asked Lumsden if he wanted the shooter identified, he responded, "In a way, yes; in a way, no."

Chapman, of the 6700 block of Old Waterloo Road, is charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and related charges.

Ira Chapman, 17, the defendant's brother, also testified yesterday, saying his brother did not have a gun at the party.

He said that he and the five other men with whom he went to the party, including his brother, all left together after the shooting and did not call police or discuss who could have been the shooter.

Douglas Shaffer, a forensic chemist for the Maryland State Police, testified Monday that gunpowder residue tests on Shamal Chapman's clothes were either negative or inconclusive.

However, during cross-examination yesterday, Assistant State's Attorney Mary Murphy asked Shaffer if it was possible for the residue to still be on the clothes when they were recovered four days after the shooting. Shaffer responded that washing clothes can remove the residue.

Based on the tests, Shaffer said, he could not determine who had fired a gun. However, two people who were at the party - Larry Wade, who was in the hotel room where the shots were fired, and Julian Benjamin, who was in the room into which the shots were fired - each tested positive for gunpowder residue on their hands.

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