High court declines to take up case of murder suspect

October 05, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Annapolis man accused in the carjack killing of a businessman outside his home in the city's Historic District two years ago can be tried on first-degree murder charges now that the nation's highest court has rejected his bid to exclude incriminating statements he made to police.

The U.S. Supreme Court declined yesterday to hear a challenge by Terrence Tolbert, 21, to a ruling last year by Maryland's highest court allowing prosecutors to use Tolbert's statements about his suspected role in the killing of Straughan Lee Griffin.

The trial, which had been postponed while on appeal, is scheduled for January in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court and is expected to take a week.

Tolbert, who is being held in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center, was charged in the case along with his friend Leeander Jerome Blake, 19.

Blake was freed this year under a quirk of Maryland law after statements Blake made to police were thrown out by Maryland's highest court. The trial court originally had excluded those statements. Prosecutors appealed that ruling and lost.

The victim, 51, was unloading groceries in front of his home just before dusk Sept. 19, 2002, when he was shot in the head, robbed of the keys to his Jeep Grand Cherokee and run over by the stolen vehicle.

Tolbert was arrested after witnesses said they had seen a one-armed youth near Griffin's home, a few blocks from the State House. Tolbert lost his right arm during childhood in an electrical transformer accident.

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