State builds murder case

Aim is to tie defendant to clothing, revolver

Surveillance video to be shown

Deli owner was robbed and killed in 2003


February 04, 2005|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

The state built its case of physical evidence yesterday in Howard County Circuit Court against a Baltimore man accused of robbing and fatally shooting a Jessup deli owner in 2003.

Prosecutors attempted to link clothing and a revolver to Walter J. Blannon, 39, during the trial in which he faces first-degree murder and related charges in the slaying of Kwang Jun Kim.

Mike Nickol, a Maryland State Police firearms examiner, testified that a piece of a bullet that police said was taken from Kim's brain matched the .357-caliber revolver that police found in a gold-colored Chevrolet Malibu that they say Blannon was driving.

Erik Zaleskiewicz, a former state police forensic chemist, testified that gunshot residue was found on a glove and a cuff of a jacket that police said was also taken from the car. And Cynthia Zeller, a DNA analyst for the state police, testified that Blannon's DNA was on those articles of clothing.

Kim, 53, was returning to Jessup Plaza Deli & Convenience, which sold sandwiches and sundries and offered check-cashing services, on Oct. 8, 2003, when he was robbed of $125,000 and shot.

Dr. Susan Hogan, an assistant medical examiner for the state, testified that Kim died from a gunshot wound to the head, with the bullet entering his body above his right eyebrow and lodging in his brain.

After Kim was shot, Blannon was arrested after a high-speed car chase across Howard and Baltimore counties that ended in West Baltimore.

Earlier in the trial, which began Tuesday, a Howard County police crime-scene technician testified that police recovered from the Malibu a tan vinyl bag containing $81,000 and a canvas bag containing $44,000 - together the exact amount of cash that was taken from Kim.

Kim's son, Sean Kim, testified during the first day of the trial that the store, in the 7800 block of Washington Blvd., sometimes had as much as $400,000 on hand to cash customers' checks.

Blannon of the 1600 block of N. Calvert St. is one of two men accused of killing Kim. The passenger in the car, Reginald Venable Jr., 47, of the 800 block of E. 33rd St. in Baltimore is also charged with first-degree murder and related counts. He is scheduled for trial Feb. 15.

The robbery and shooting was captured on the store's surveillance video, and the jury is scheduled to view that tape this morning. Closing arguments are expected later in the day, and the jury could begin deliberating this afternoon.

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