Court of Appeals postpones execution...


April 02, 2005


Court of Appeals postpones execution in motel killings

Maryland's highest court agreed yesterday to postpone the execution of a man scheduled to be put to death this month, giving the convicted killer a chance to argue that his sentence should be overturned based on a University of Maryland death penalty study.

The Court of Appeals granted the request from Vernon L. Evans Jr., 55, to stay his execution and ordered that his lawyers be prepared to argue their case June 7 alongside attorneys for death row inmate Wesley E. Baker as to why the death sentences should be overturned.

Evans and drug kingpin Anthony Grandison were convicted and sentenced to death for the April 1983 killing of David Scott Piechowicz and Susan Kennedy at the Warren House Motor Hotel in Pikesville.

Baker was convicted in 1992 of fatally shooting a teacher's aide in front of her grandchildren in the parking lot of a Catonsville shopping center.

Both Baker and Evans -- as well as two other death row inmates -- have asked the courts to overturn their sentences based on a January 2003 study in which professor Raymond Paternoster documented racial and geographic disparities in the application of the death penalty in Maryland.

Evans and Baker are black. The victims in their cases, all of whom were white, were killed in Baltimore County.

-- Jennifer McMenamin

BALTIMORE@SUBHEDDefense lawyers stage protest of witness intimidation bill

Holding a copy of the Constitution in his right hand and a copy of the witness intimidation bill in his left, Baltimore attorney Warren A. Brown gathered with a group of defense lawyers yesterday to condemn the legislation before the House Judiciary Committee.

Joining Brown and about 20 others on the steps of the Clarence M. Mitchell Jr. Courthouse was prominent defense attorney William H. Murphy Jr. Both men commented on what they saw as the dangers of the witness intimidation bill supported by Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy. The provision calling for the "hearsay exception" -- in which a witness could give a statement but not have to appear in court -- received the brunt of the criticism.

"We have gathered to announce our vehement disapproval of the bill now pending in Annapolis that would deprive citizens of this city, this state and this country the right to confront their accusers," Brown said.

Ehrlich and Jessamy have said the legislation -- passed by the Senate -- is crucial to combating witness intimidation. They have criticized the committee for not bringing the bill to a vote.

CARROLL COUNTY@SUBHEDMan in shootout killed by bullet fired from his gun, police say

The shot that killed a Baltimore man in a Carroll County field March 11 came from the revolver he was firing at two sheriff's deputies who had tried to stop him for speeding, according to a preliminary report by the Maryland State Police.

Craig Eugene Hill Sr., 31, of the 2600 block of Norland Road fired seven times from a 357-magnum Smith & Wesson revolver that had been reported stolen in the city, but hit only himself, Carroll Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning said at a news conference yesterday with Carroll County Deputy State's Attorney Clarence W. Beall.

Investigators did not determine whether he fired accidentally or intentionally.

Deputies Jesse G. Clagett and William G. Burdt didn't know when they tried to stop Hill that about 10 minutes earlier he had burst into the Westminster home of an ex-girlfriend -- saying he had killed one woman, planned to kill her and to be dead himself by the end of the day, police said. About three hours later, Baltimore County police found the body of Sharon Harvey, 30, at her home in the 2000 block of Hillcrest Road, killed by a bullet from the gun Hill used, police said.

The two deputies, suspended with pay for a week, acted properly, Beall said.

-- Sheridan Lyons

BALTIMORE@SUBHEDCity road closures planned for Greek parade tomorrow

Baltimore transportation officials are planning road closures tomorrow for the Greek Independence Day parade.

The parade is set to begin at 2 p.m. from the area of Eastern Avenue and Haven Street, proceeding east on Eastern to Ponca Street. The parade will then go south along Ponca Street to the church lot just south of Fait Avenue.

City transportation officials expect the event to last about three hours.

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