Myers on trial facing charges of conspiracy

January 29, 2002|By Gail Gibson | Gail Gibson,SUN STAFF

Almost two years after an armed robbery case against him collapsed in state court, Armistead D. Myers went on trial again yesterday, charged this time with federal conspiracy in a string of Howard County hold-ups that included a grocery store robbery in which he was suspected of brandishing an AK-47 assault rifle.

Myers, 27, won an acquittal at the state level when a Howard County judge said prosecutors had failed to support the testimony of the main witness to put Myers at the scene of the January 1999 robbery. The trial that opened yesterday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore also is expected to turn on the reliability of the government's witnesses.

Defense attorney Michael D. Montemarano told jurors that nothing in the government's case links Myers to the robbery conspiracy or the holdup of the Giant Food store at the Wilde Lake Village Center in Columbia, except the testimony of two admitted criminals who are cooperating with prosecutors in exchange for lighter sentences.

In his opening statement, Montemarano called the witnesses "two individuals whose testimony, for lack of a better word, has been bought and paid for in the most valuable coin any of us know: time."

But Harvey E. Eisenberg, an assistant U.S. attorney, told jurors that the government witnesses can be trusted to tell the truth, and he said they would prove the case.

"It's not really a whodunit because they are going to tell you whodunit: Armistead Myers," Eisenberg said.

Jurors were not told yesterday about the armed robbery, assault and other charges that were thrown out of state court.

Myers could not be retried for the same crime, but investigators used the same incident to bring a new case against him in federal court.

The federal conspiracy charge involves robberies or attempted robberies at 11 businesses, mostly in Howard County, between HODecember 1997 and February 1999.

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