Death penalty won't be sought in deli killing

February 22, 2004|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,SUN STAFF

Howard County's state's attorney will not seek the death penalty for a Baltimore man accused of fatally shooting a Jessup delicatessen owner.

Instead, State's Attorney Timothy J. McCrone said he will seek a sentence of life without the possibility of parole if Walter James Blannon, 38, is convicted on first-degree murder, armed robbery and other charges in the killing Oct. 8 of Kwang Jun Kim.

Blannon received notification of the decision in court Friday.

Police said Kim was shot in the head while struggling with two assailants over $125,000 in cash.

Kim was walking into his Jessup Plaza Deli & Convenience Store -- which included a check-cashing service -- in the 7800 block of Washington Blvd. when robbers tried to grab the money he was carrying, police said. Authorities chased two suspects through Howard and Baltimore counties and into Baltimore City.

At the end of the chase, police arrested Blannon, a resident of the 1600 block of N. Calvert St. According to charging documents, police recovered two guns and found $125,000 in cash in the suspect's car, along with deposit slips with the name of Kim's business on them.

Police also arrested Reginald Venable Jr., 46, of the 800 block of E. 33rd St. He was shot by a Baltimore County police officer during the incident. He was indicted on the same charges as Blannon but had not received notice of the state's attorney's intentions regarding his possible sentence as of Friday.

"This case has been carefully reviewed and screened in minute detail," McCrone said Friday.

McCrone said he was unable to discuss the details of the case that led to his decision. He said the victim's family agrees with the decision, but did not influence his office by asking to avoid the death penalty.

"I have no personal aversion to the death penalty," he said. Regarding Blannon, he said he evaluated the facts and "developed my considered opinion."

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