Conviction overturned second time

Man claimed self-defense in 1999 killing of neighbor

August 03, 2002|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

For the second time in two years, an appeals court overturned the murder conviction yesterday of an Annapolis man who said he fatally shot his neighbor in a crime-ridden area of the state capital, but contended he fired in self-defense.

The trial judge should have told Anne Arundel County Circuit Court jurors that if they believed that John Thomas Logan III feared that the man he later killed would attack him, Logan had the right to arm himself, a Court of Special Appeals panel ruled in a 2-1 decision.

Logan, 25, was convicted last year of second-degree murder and gun charges in the Jan. 22, 1999, slaying of Wayne D. Addison, 20, and sentenced to 50 years in prison, the same outcome as in the first trial in November 1999.

The Court of Special Appeals overturned the first conviction in October 2000 because the trial judge let a detective testify that part way through his interview with Logan, the defendant asked for a lawyer.

The county's chief prosecutor vowed to challenge yesterday's decision and to retry the case if appeal efforts failed.

"It is very close. We ought to get a ruling by more judges," said Frank R. Weathersbee, Anne Arundel state's attorney.

Logan and Addison, friends while growing up, had a falling out over a car that Logan argued he bought in 1997 but was in Addison's possession. Logan filed charges against Addison in 1998. The case was referred for mediation.

John Logan Jr. said yesterday that he would welcome a third trial for his son and, because he believes some witnesses lied in the earlier trials, hopes a retrial would be an opportunity to "let the truth be told."

Circumstances of the shooting - Logan shot Addison as the victim was in a taxi outside a grocery store - were at issue in both trials. Logan said he fired because Addison, who had beaten and threatened him before, was reaching for a gun.

Police did not find a gun at the scene. According to testimony, one of the victim's relatives took items, but no gun, from Addison's pockets before police arrived.

The majority opinion, by Judge Arrie W. Davis, faulted now-retired Judge Eugene M. Lerner for refusing a defense request for the jury instruction on being armed. Instead, Lerner told Logan's lawyer, Roland Walker, that he could make that argument to the jury.

But in his dissenting opinion, retired Judge James S. Getty wrote that the instruction refers to fearing immediate harm. With testimony that Addison and Logan threatened "to kill each other for nearly a year, both men could have strapped on a gun every day in case of a chance meeting," he wrote.

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