Sergeant pleads guilty in slaying of girlfriend

September 26, 2001|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

An Aberdeen Proving Ground staff sergeant pleaded guilty yesterday in Harford County Circuit Court to first-degree murder in the February slaying of his fiancee during an argument at the couple's home.

Elijah McNeil Jr., 36, of the 3500 block of Woodbrook Court in Abingdon, admitted he shot Mary Ann Mathiowdis, 39, 18 times with an Egyptian model AK-47 while his son and her two daughters were in the house.

McNeil had been charged with first-degree murder and three counts of reckless endangerment. In exchange for the guilty plea, the state's attorney's office, which had sought a sentence of life imprisonment without parole, lessened the sentence request to life in prison and dropped the reckless endangerment counts, said defense attorney A. Dwight Pettit of Baltimore.

"We felt that under the circumstances and facts that that plea would be appropriate," Pettit said yesterday.

Lisa H. Marts, who was assigned the case with fellow assistant state's attorney Jeffrey L. Michael, said of the plea agreement: "I think it was best for all the parties. If the case had gone to trial, the children would have had to testify. This spared the family and the children from reliving the tragedy again."

McNeil will remain in the Harford County Detention Center until his sentencing Nov. 27.

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