Taped conversation was `big factor' in murder conviction, 2 jurors say

Prince George's man guilty of killing Columbia woman

Howard County

October 29, 2004|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

A hidden wire that recorded a conversation implicating a Prince George's County man in the murder of a Columbia woman who was pregnant with his child convinced a Howard County Circuit Court jury that he was guilty of the crime.

The tape of the conversation, said two jurors, proved that Tjane C. Marshall, 28, of Suitland, killed Shameka Fludd, 23, who was found shot four times in the face May 4 last year at her Stevens Forest apartment in Columbia's Oakland Mills village.

"The big factor was the audio tape," said juror Tim Wescott of Ellicott City. "Without that, personally, I would not have voted to convict him."

The 12-member jury convicted Marshall Wednesday night of first-degree murder and of using a handgun in the commission of a violent crime. The jury deliberated 4 1/2 hours after the six-day trial.

Marshall is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 7, when the state plans to seek punishment of life in prison without parole.

The incriminating conversation was recorded by police with the cooperation of Marshall's roommate, Rashaun Wall. Police arranged for them to meet July 10, last year on a Forestville parking lot.

According to the 48-page transcript, which was edited by police, Marshall told Wall: "I wasn't even close enough to the broad to get little splashes on me."

He also said: "It wasn't, wasn't nothing. Everything's straight. I'm, I'm just letting you know that. I'm just telling you, you have nothing to worry about."

The defense argued there was no physical evidence linking Marshall to the crime, and Assistant Public Defender Janette DeBoissiere urged the jury to be skeptical of the taped conversation's transcript.

"Listen to the tape," she told the jury during closing arguments. "Do not let the transcript dictate what those words are."

Juror Alix McDonough of Glenelg said jurors listened to the roughly hourlong tape while deliberating. Some looked at the transcript to confirm what they had heard, while others depended only on the tape, she said.

"It really is close to accurate," she said of the transcript. " ... It didn't put words in his mouth."

McDonough also said Marshall's cell phone records - which tracked his phone's location during the time police believe Fludd was murdered and showed that Marshall took a call in the vicinity of Columbia early May 4 - also helped prove the state's case.

"We actually had something that physically put him in Columbia," she said.

Wall was the state's key witness and signed an immunity agreement with authorities in exchange for his testimony after police used a search warrant to seize $10,000 worth of marijuana at his home. He told the jury Marshall had detailed plans to kill Fludd, a mother of two who worked at a Laurel day care center.

Wall said he and Marshall attended a party May 3 of last year, and Marshall left after about a half-hour, when prosecutors argued he killed Fludd because he did not want her to have his child. Marshall and Wall later met at their apartment, and Marshall told Wall about the killing, Wall testified.

Wall said he burned Marshall's clothes, boots and latex gloves in a plastic trash can in an alley behind Wall's mother's home. He said he also threw the revolver into the Anacostia River. Police never recovered the weapon.

DeBoissiere attempted to characterize Wall as unreliable, saying he was lying to police in an attempt to save himself and was so untrustworthy that "you wouldn't even buy CDs from him on the street."

But McDonough said the taped conversation and other witness testimony made Wall's story believable.

"Hearing it from [Marshall] and not from Rashaun Wall, who ... was given a deal to say anything about Marshall, to hear Marshall's own words really seemed to do him in," Mc- Donough said.

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