Crime Watch

CRIME WATCH

August 28, 2007

Inmate admits killing convicted murderer

A state prison inmate pleaded guilty yesterday to strangling Richard Spicknall, who was serving life sentences for killing his two young children.

Lawrence Joseph Lannin, 37, will see no discernible punishment for the crime: He was sentenced in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court to life without parole, adding to the two life sentences he's already serving for a pair of 1994 murders in Prince George's County.

Last Dec. 9, Lannin strangled Spicknall, 34, with his hands, then a cord, in a shower at the Jessup Correctional Institution, where both men were housed in protective custody, separated from the general prison population. Spicknall was there because, as a child killer, he had feared for his life.

Asked by Circuit Judge Paul G. Goetzke why he wanted to plead guilty to first-degree murder, Lannin replied: "Because I am guilty in this case. There is no sense in spending the taxpayers' funds." He made no other statement in court.

As an Upper Marlboro resident on parole 13 years ago, Lannin set two people on fire in a College Park apartment after a dispute.

Spicknall was serving two consecutive life sentences plus 20 years for fatally shooting his two children, Richie, 2, and Destiny, 3, on Sept. 8, 1999, 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.

Spicknall, who had lived in Laurel, at first 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 Spicknall tearfully confessed to shooting the children and said he had then tried to kill himself.

He claimed his wife Lisa, from whom he was separated, tormented him in custody and divorce battles.

Linda Dages, an aunt of Spicknall's, made a brief remark to the judge.

"I know what Richard did was inexcusable, but he was ours," she said.

A call from a nonprison telephone saying someone should check the shower because a person was hurt led officers to find Spicknall lying there about 7:40 p.m., Assistant State's Attorney Eileen Reilly said.

Reilly said surveillance cameras showed Spicknall walking fully clothed to the shower on his prison tier, followed soon after by Lannin in a white towel. The videos showed Lannin walking back and forth on the tier, at one point reaching into his cell and finally asking correctional officers to let him back inside it. He told authorities that he first tried to throttle Spicknall with his hands but when that seemed insufficient, he went back to his cell to get the cord, Reilly said.

Andrea F. Siegel

Man killed at service station

A native of Nepal, who was working a 12-hour night shift at a service station in Northwest Baltimore and was to have attended his first day of classes at Baltimore City Community College yesterday, was shot to death hours earlier during what might have been a robbery, police said.

The man's death brought the number of homicides in the city this year to 205 as of yesterday, compared with 178 at the same time last year.

Police said Himank Karki, 18, of the 900 block of N. Calvert St. was found lying next to a gas pump at the Texaco station in the 2600 block of Gwynns Falls Parkway near Koko Lane about 2 a.m. by Western District police responding to a report of a shooting, said Agent Donny Moses, a police spokesman.

Police said Karki was working the 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift. It was not known how long he had worked at the gas station, which is directly across Gwynns Falls Parkway from two schools.

Karki, who was in the United States on a student visa, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body was taken to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy, police said.

Police said the owner of the gas station told investigators that Karki was instructed not to leave the station office under any circumstances.

Police said it was not known whether Karki left the office on his own or whether he was lured outside. They also declined to say if there were any obvious signs of a robbery.

Police said Karki's roommate contacted the victim's family in Nepal and told them of Karki's death.

Metro Crime Stoppers at 410-276-8888 is offering a reward of up to $2,000 for information leading to an arrest and indictment in the slaying.

Richard Irwin and Gus Sentementes

Man's body found in Columbia

The body an unidentified man in his 20s was found early yesterday evening near a footpath in the Hickory Ridge community of Columbia. The body was sent to the state medical examiner's office for an autopsy, said a spokeswoman for Howard County police.

A man was walking along the footpath off the 12200 block of Green Meadow Drive about 5:45 p.m. when he spotted the body and called police, said Sherry Llewellyn, the spokeswoman.

It appeared that the man had been dead for about two days. There were no obvious signs of foul play, she said.

Richard Irwin

Burning body found in park

An autopsy is scheduled for today on a body that was found on fire early yesterday in a Baltimore County park.

Firefighters called to Villa Nova Park at Villa Nova and Queen Anne roads about 1:45 a.m., saw a fire in a wooded area about 30 feet from the road. They extinguished the fire and realized that the burning object was a body, said Cpl. Michael Hill, a county police spokesman.

Detectives who were called to the scene said they think the body is that of a black male age 15 to 25, Hill said. Investigators were unable to determine whether the victim had been shot, stabbed or otherwise wounded, the spokesman said.

A medical examiner will attempt to identify the victim and determine the cause of death, Hill said.

Josh Mitchell

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