19-year-old convicted of murder

Tuell faces life sentence for killing man he had seen with a friend's stolen cell phone

October 06, 2007|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,Sun reporter

Andrew Tuell fatally shot the man he saw talking on a friend's stolen cell phone.

Then he grabbed the phone from the dying man and gave it to his friend, all so that he could be seen as "the hero" in an Annapolis public housing community.

That was the scenario that prosecutors laid out in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, winning the conviction yesterday of Tuell, 19, of Annapolis on charges of first-degree murder.

Tuell faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole for shooting Terrance Powell, 23, of Glen Burnie on Feb. 11 outside College Creek Terrace.

About 4:30 that morning, Tuell, nicknamed Zell, approached Powell and, without arguing, shot him five times at close range with a handgun before taking the cell phone.

Prosecutors said Tuell dumped the gun, which has not been recovered, in a river in Baltimore, and fled via Greyhound bus to his uncle's house in Utah.

During his trial this week, several neighborhood residents placed Tuell at the scene of the shooting, and Tuell's uncle testified that the teen told him he'd pulled the gun out of his pants pocket and shot Powell. He turned Tuell in to authorities 26 days after the slaying.

The jury of 10 women and two men deliberated five hours over two days. In court yesterday, at least two of them cried as the verdict was handed down.

The jury was "wrestling with the fact that they were dealing with a very young man who threw his life away. ... It was really a very rash decision over a cell phone," said assistant state's attorney Anne Colt Leitess, who prosecuted the case.

Tuell's attorney, Robert Henry Waldman, attempted to paint the uncle as a disgruntled family member out for revenge, and he questioned the testimony of the eyewitnesses. He said his client, who has maintained his innocence, will likely appeal.

"Whoever it was that shot Mr. Powell, I thought that the evidence showed that this was a rash and impulsive act without premeditation," Waldman said, referring to the jury's finding of a first-degree murder conviction, which requires premeditation.

Powell's mother, sister and aunt yesterday voiced gratitude to the prosecutors and detectives who worked on the case. They said that while Powell had been convicted of selling crack cocaine and marijuana in the past, he was planning on getting married and had gotten a job at an automotive shop.

Powell's brother, Timothy Sembly Jr., was fatally shot in September 2001 in the same neighborhood at the age of 15.

Tuell is scheduled for sentencing on Dec. 3.

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

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