Howard Week

October 24, 2004

Trial is under way in the killing of a Columbia woman

In May of last year, Howard County police found 23-year-old Shameka Fludd fatally shot in the head in her Stevens Forest apartment in Columbia's Oakland Mills Village.

She was four to five months pregnant, according to police.

Last week, Tjane Charmeise Marshall, 28, of Suitland - who police believe was the father of Fludd's unborn child - went on trial on first-degree murder charges in Fludd's death in Howard Circuit Court.

In opening statements Tuesday, Deputy State's Attorney F. Todd Taylor told the jury that the thought of fathering a third child drove Marshall to shoot Fludd.

Assistant Public Defender Janette DeBoissiere said Marshall had fathered two children with separate women, and since being charged with murder has discovered that he fathered yet another child. She described her client as a "womanizer" who also dealt drugs. Although Marshall isn't "committed to women," he has not reacted violently to similar circumstances, she said.

DeBoissiere also said that authorities had not tied anyone to the evidence found in Fludd's apartment.

On Thursday, a Maryland State Police firearms examiner testified that two bullet fragments he examined from Fludd's bedroom were .22-caliber long rifle bullets. Those bullets likely were fired from a revolver.

The firearms examiner's testimony came one day after a Howard County police detective told the jury that a former roommate of Marshall's, Rashaun Wall, led police to .22-caliber and 9 mm rounds in June of last year. Those bullets were found in a storm drain in Prince George's County after Wall signed an immunity agreement to assist in the investigation of Fludd's death.

Wall also led investigators to three places in Washington where he said he disposed of or destroyed evidence, including a handgun he said he tossed into the Anacostia River. Divers were unable to locate the weapon.

Raum, Haslinger retire; 2 court master posts open

On his last day as a Howard County Circuit Court master in chancery, Bernard A. Raum admonished the state Department of Juvenile Services, saying his frustration with the department contributed to his desire to leave the bench.

Master Nancy L. Haslinger, on one of her final days, told a divorcing couple with three children: "Neither of you have the luxury of acting like a fool or a jackass."

Together, Raum and Haslinger - known for their frankness while handling thousands of juvenile and custody cases - have a combined 33 years of service as masters in Howard and have retired just over two weeks apart, leaving the court with one master.

Raum retired Sept. 30, and Haslinger's last day was Oct. 15.

The two masters were the only ones who heard a range of cases involving juvenile crime, custody issues and children in need of assistance. Elaine Patrick, the third master, hears only state-involved child-support and paternity cases.

Judge Diane O. Leasure, the county's administrative circuit judge, said the court plans to fill the vacancies by Dec. 1.

Elkridge liquor store has license revoked

A Howard County hearing board has decided to revoke the license of an Elkridge liquor store cited three times by police for selling alcohol to minors.

In its order to revoke the license of Meadowridge Wine and Spirits in the 6500 block Huntshire Drive, which was released Monday, the county's Alcoholic Beverage Hearing Board found "a pattern of violations over several years that demonstrate a failure to fill the responsibilities required of a licensee."

At the hearing Oct. 12, the board heard a statement of facts agreed to by both sides revealing that no one legally responsible for the store lives in Howard County, as required by law. Untrained clerks were also caught several times by police selling alcohol to underage youths.

The store also did not display proper tax records, and the annual license renewal applications included false addresses for licensees, according to testimony by Detective Martin Johnson, a county liquor inspector.

Since June, the statement said, contract purchasers not on the liquor license operated the store.

Village center banning being debated in Columbia

The problem at Harper's Choice Village Center stretches back to the 1970s, when troublesome people were referred to as "the willies." These days, village leaders call them different names - "hobos" or "undesirables" - but the problem is the same: what to do about people who sleep on benches at night and cause trouble during the day.

This year, Harper's Choice officials decided to ban from the village center two homeless men who loitered there and harassed customers. And the village board is considering banning two others.

The actions have renewed debate in Columbia over the practice of banning people who are dubbed public nuisances.

Pleas heard to preserve Merriweather Post Pavilion

After months of meetings at which the public mostly played spectator, about 80 Columbia residents got their say Wednesday night and pleaded for the preservation of Merriweather Post Pavilion as an outdoor amphitheater.

A panel examining whether the county should buy Merriweather from the Rouse Co. held the meeting to hear from the public, and got an earful.

Justin Carlson, co-founder of the activist group Save Merriweather, said Columbia is fast becoming like any other suburb. "Merriweather sets it apart."

The future of the pavilion and the land surrounding it is being weighed by a 15-member citizen panel that is supposed to make its recommendation by the end of the year.

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