Inmate indicted in Spicknall killing

May 26, 2007|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,Sun Reporter

An Anne Arundel County grand jury indicted an inmate yesterday on a charge of first-degree murder in the December asphyxiation killing of Richard Spicknall II, who had murdered his two small children in 1999.

Lawrence Joseph Lannin, 37, who is serving a double life sentence for two first-degree murder convictions, is accused of killing Spicknall at the Jessup Correctional Institution on Dec. 9.

The body of Spicknall, who as a child murderer feared for his life and was housed in protective custody, was found in the prison showers with a rag or towel in his mouth, according to prison system sources at the time of the killing. He was 34 when he died.

Spicknall's autopsy revealed "ligature marks on the neck consistent with strangulation," said Deputy State's Attorney William D. Roessler, who led the grand jury proceedings.

A prison spokesman had labeled the killing a "mystery" at the time, and Roessler did not disclose further details of the incident. Lannin has not yet been assigned a defense attorney, Roessler said.

"This is the first notice [Lannin] has that he's been charged, although it shouldn't be a surprise to him," Roessler said. "The state police were thorough and we look forward to presenting the evidence in court."

Spicknall shot his two children, Richie, 2, and Destiny, 3, while they were strapped into their car seats in the back seat of his Jeep near a bridge over the Choptank River on the Eastern Shore on Sept. 8, 1999.

At first, Spicknall told police that he had been overpowered by an armed hitchhiker, who he said had thrown him off the U.S. 50 bridge at Cambridge and sped off with the children. But later he tearfully confessed to shooting the children and said he had then tried to kill himself.

The case was widely publicized at the time because of the nature of the crime and partly because of how Spicknall was able to buy the gun. He bought it at a Prince George's County pawnshop, despite a protective order obtained by his then-wife, Lisa Spicknall, which under Maryland law should have barred him from purchasing a firearm.

Lannin has been serving a double-life sentence for two murders committed in 1994 in Prince George's County. He is housed at the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore, Roessler said.

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