Man gets 20 years in '99 killing of friend

His 2 earlier convictions in shooting were reversed

plea agreement ends case

Man gets 20-year term in 1999 fatal shooting

Annapolis

October 21, 2003|By Julie Bykowicz | Julie Bykowicz,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis man who had been convicted twice of the same murder -- but had both convictions overturned on appeal -- agreed yesterday to a plea arrangement under which he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for second-degree murder.

John Thomas Logan III, 26, has admitted to fatally shooting his lifelong friend and neighbor in Eastport, Wayne D. Addison, in January 1999 over a disagreement about a car, which was worth about $1,000.

Prosecutors said that even though Addison's relatives were not pleased, they believed they had to strike a deal because all of the case's crucial witnesses declined to testify a third time.

In October 2000, Logan's first murder conviction was overturned by the Court of Special Appeals because the trial judge let a detective testify that partway through his interview with Logan, the man asked for a lawyer. This could have led jurors to infer that he did so because he was guilty, the appeals judges ruled.

Anne Arundel County prosecutors retried the case and won a second murder conviction. But in August last year, the appeals court overturned it, saying the trial judge should have told jurors that if they believed that Logan feared Addison would attack him, he had the right to arm himself.

A third trial in the case was set to begin yesterday, but prosecutors said the nearly 5-year- old case had "several significant problems," including the lack of witness cooperation.

"In my heart, I believe he deserves every day of a 50-year sentence," said Assistant State's Attorney Pamela K. Alban after the sentencing. "But I didn't want to risk losing in court and having him walk away."

In previous court cases, witnesses testified that Logan approached Addison, who had been sitting in a taxicab with several other men outside a neighborhood grocery store, shot him four times with a high-powered revolver and walked away.

Logan has long maintained that he shot the 20-year-old in self-defense, saying that Addison also was armed. But Annapolis police did not find a gun on or near Addison. And Addison's cousin, who was one of the men in the cab during the shooting, testified at both trials that if Addison had been armed, Logan also would have been killed that night.

During a statement just before Judge Joseph P. Manck sentenced him, Logan said that "there are two sides to every story" and insisted the killing occurred in self-defense.

"It's hard to hear that I'm a cold-blooded killer," he said. "All I did was defended myself."

The two former friends had a long-standing disagreement over ownership of a car. Each man said the other owed him money. Logan had filed a complaint with police.

The night of the shooting, Addison had goaded Logan about getting the police involved in their dispute. Soon after, Addison was shot as he sat in the cab with his cousin and several other men. The cab driver had gone inside the grocery store to make change.

Those eyewitnesses declined to cooperate during a third trial, Alban said, weakening the state's case.

None of Addison's relatives in court yesterday -- including his mother, father and two sisters -- would comment, but Alban said "the family's belief in the judicial system has been severely damaged by all this."

Logan's attorney, Roland Walker of Baltimore, said he believed his client had a solid case of self-defense but that Logan had weighed the possibility of getting a 50-year sentence -- as he had received after the first two trials -- against the 20-year sentence offered by prosecutors and agreed to it.

Logan's 20-year sentence was made effective January 1999, meaning that he will be eligible for parole in January 2009. A five-year sentence for a weapons violation will be served concurrently.

"It's hard for anybody to be content with this result," Walker said. "But when nobody's happy, that's usually a sign of a fair result."

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