Man free during appeal in murder case is arrested

Suspect in carjacking in court on drug charge

February 18, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis man, who was free for months while waiting to learn if murder charges against him would go to a trial or be dismissed, was arrested yesterday when he arrived in court for an unrelated drug case that had been postponed.

Terrence Tolbert, who is charged in the high-profile 2002 carjacking-murder of a businessman two blocks from the State House in Annapolis, was taken into custody in an Anne Arundel County Circuit courtroom.

The arrest came as county prosecutors were waiting for another judge to respond to their request to jail Tolbert in the newly revived murder case, according to a spokeswoman for prosecutors.

Tolbert, 21, was free in the drug case when Straughan Lee Griffin was killed Sept. 19, 2002, while unloading groceries in front of his Historic District home. Griffin was shot in the head and robbed of the keys to his Jeep and run over by the vehicle.

Tolbert allegedly admitted to participating in the slaying. But Judge Ronald A. Silkworth threw out Tolbert's statement to police, ruling that his Miranda rights were violated. An appeal by prosecutors caused Tolbert's release from the county jail. Last week, the state's highest court reinstated the confession and returned the case for trial.

Late Friday, Judge Joseph P. Manck agreed with Tolbert's lawyer to postpone his drug trial. However, without a request from prosecutors, Manck issued a warrant allowing officials to apprehend Tolbert, calling him "a flight risk."

Yesterday, a prosecutor in the murder case recognized Tolbert in the courtroom and alerted sheriff's Cpl. Thomas Sims Jr., who was assigned there for courtroom security, said Deputy Harry Neisser.

Late yesterday, Silkworth ordered the jailing of Tolbert in the murder case as well, said Mark A. Van Bavel, Tolbert's defense lawyer.

Late yesterday, Silkworth ordered the jailing of Tolbert in the murder case as well, said Mark A. Van Bavel, Tolberts defense lawyer.

Van Bavel said he would seek Tolberts release, which Frederick Paone, one of two assistant state's attorneys prosecuting the murder case, said he will oppose.

"I really truly do not think he is a flight risk," Van Bavel said.

No date has been set for the murder trial. Van Bavel said he is "looking into further appellate action."

Leeander Jerome Blake, 18, the other suspect in the slaying, is in the county jail awaiting a decision from the Maryland Court of Appeals. His statement to police was ruled inadmissible. That decision was overturned, a ruling Blake has challenged.

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