Two teens charged in death, carjacking

Man was shot, run over outside Annapolis home

October 27, 2002|By Laura Barnhardt | Laura Barnhardt,SUN STAFF

Two Annapolis teen-agers are accused of shooting a man execution-style near his home in historic downtown Annapolis last month during a brazen carjacking gone awry, police said yesterday.

Terrance Tolbert, 19, and Leeander Jerome Blake, 17, both of the 1300 block of Tyler Ave. in Annapolis, were being held last night at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center without bail on charges that they shot Straughan Lee Griffin, 51, in the head with a revolver outside his Cumberland Court home as he unloaded groceries about 7:30 p.m. Sept. 19.

His attackers then stole his Jeep Grand Cherokee and ran over him as they fled, leaving Griffin in a pool of blood on the secluded brick street, police said.

The slaying was the first homicide in the historic section of the state capital in more than two decades, said Officer Hal Dalton, a police spokesman.

"A citizen gunned down in broad daylight has a chilling effect on the community," said Capt. Stan Malm.

Griffin, a partner in a specialty video projection firm in Columbia, who was known as "Lee," enjoyed traveling, sailing, art, music and fine wine. A native of Portsmouth, Va., he moved to Annapolis from Alexandria, Va., five years ago. He renovated his gray stucco home and bought a Hunter sailboat. He was a member of Eastport Yacht Club.

During an interview with detectives Friday, Tolbert admitted his involvement in the killing and implicated Blake, said Annapolis Detective William Johns. Tolbert was charged with first- and second-degree murder, armed robbery, carjacking and related offenses, police said.

Blake was arrested yesterday morning and was charged as an adult with the same offenses. After their arrests, Malm said, other people told police the pair had admitted to them that they had been involved in the crime, which remains under investigation.

Griffin's Jeep was abandoned in the parking lot of a Glen Burnie apartment complex, but no one has been charged with helping the pair get away. Police have not recovered the revolver used to shoot Griffin.

With the help of investigators from the FBI's Annapolis field office, state and county police departments, city detectives said, they were able to piece together descriptions of the suspects who had been seen on Maryland Avenue -- a few hundred yards from the State House -- just before the slaying.

Hundreds of tips came in, and investigators knocked on dozens of doors and interviewed hundreds of people during the past few weeks, Malm said. Eventually, information led them to Tolbert and Blake, who are friends and neighbors, he said.

Tolbert was arrested this month on unrelated assault charges, but the case has not been scheduled for trial, according to court records. In August, he was arrested on drug charges and was ordered to perform random urinalysis, undergo drug treatment and live with his mother as conditions of his probation, court records show.

Blake has never been charged as an adult with a crime, records show. But whether he had a criminal past as a juvenile is unclear because those records are not public.

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