Judge to hear arguments on missing knife

December 20, 2007|By Greg Garland | Greg Garland,Sun reporter

An Anne Arundel County judge agreed yesterday to hear arguments on whether to release records concerning a homemade knife to lawyers for two inmates accused in last year's killing of a correctional officer at the Maryland House of Correction.

Investigators have said in written reports that they consider the knife to be potential evidence in the July 25, 2006, killing of David W. McGuinn, noting that the knife was initially found near where he was killed. The shank turned up missing for two days and reappeared tagged into evidence as having been taken from an inmate during a strip search, according to documents obtained by The Sun.

Investigators said it would have been impossible for the inmate to have the 8 1/2 -inch knife. They theorize that it was planted to cover for the beating of an inmate by prison guards the afternoon after McGuinn's death.

Yesterday's court hearing before Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Paul Hackner mostly focused on procedural matters in the cases against Lamarr Harris and Lee Edward Stephens, the two inmates accused of killing McGuinn. They could be given the death penalty if convicted.

Hackner met in chambers for more than an hour with prosecutors and defense lawyers before convening in open court. He set a hearing for Jan. 23 to consider legal arguments over a request by Harris' attorney that the state turn over copies of all records related to the investigation of the missing knife and the officers involved in the incident. The state is seeking a protective order to shield the information.

The judge also disclosed in open court that he had recently received an anonymous letter from "someone who purports to be an inmate of the Division of Correction" and who thinks his life is in danger. He said it was the second such letter he had received and that they have been turned over to the state's attorney's office and will be provided to defense lawyers.

Prosecutors have sought to conceal the identity of key witnesses in the case, fearing that they could be physically harmed in the prison system if their names became known.

Motions filed in the case are being submitted to the judge before they are filed, and any identifyng information about witnesses is deleted.

greg.garland@baltsun.com

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