No verdict in Harford carjacking, robbery case

May 03, 2006|By JUSTIN FENTON | JUSTIN FENTON,SUN REPORTER

A Harford County jury will continue deliberations this morning after failing to reach a verdict in the trial of a Havre de Grace man accused of trying to rob and carjack a state delegate in 2004.

Prosecutors said Del. Mary-Dulany James and her husband, Brian Feeney, had stopped at an automated teller machine in Havre de Grace on the way home from a Christmas party when Augustine Fortune approached and demanded cash and their car at gunpoint.

In opening statements Monday, a lawyer for Fortune, 55, said his client had stumbled upon James and Feeney in a secluded parking lot and known "make-out spot" and that they had offered him cash to keep quiet about their activity. Fortune did not take the stand.

After about three hours of deliberations yesterday, the jury told Judge Thomas E. Marshall it was not close to a reaching a verdict. The judge called a recess until today, capping a bizarre day in Harford County Circuit Court.

Proceedings were interrupted for 15 minutes when the power went out and the courtroom was cast into darkness. Later, Feeney was quizzed in cross-examination about whether the couple had ever "stopped in secluded areas for romantic interludes" and whether the windows in the car were rolled down because they had become steamed up, drawing scattered chuckles.

Feeney said the windows were rolled down because he smokes while driving.

Before the case went to the jury, half of the charges against Fortune were thrown out when Marshall ruled the state had not proved that Fortune used a weapon. No weapon was recovered by police, and Feeney testified that he believed he saw Fortune holding a "blue object."

James testified Monday that Fortune had approached her husband and demanded money and threatened to kill him, but that Feeney kept walking and was able to get into the car to drive off. ATM photos showed Fortune near the machine 20 seconds after Feeney, but little else.

The trial forced James to miss the signing ceremony of a bill she sponsored in the recent legislative session that bans speech likely to incite a breach of the peace within 300 feet of a funeral.

justin.fenton@baltsun.com

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