Inmate testifies about officer's death

Hearing held in 2006 killing of guard

August 15, 2008|By Julie Scharper | Julie Scharper,Sun reporter

One of the two men charged with killing a corrections officer in July 2006 at the former Maryland House of Correction faced yesterday, for the first time in court, the inmate who accused him of the crime.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Lee Edward Stephens, 29, and Lamarr Harris, 37, who are charged with first-degree murder in the death of Officer David McGuinn.

At a motions hearing yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court, a fellow inmate, identified only as Witness B, testified that he had occupied a cell on the same tier of the now-closed Jessup prison with Stephens and had picked him from a photo array as one of the people who had attacked McGuinn.

According to police, two inmates jammed their cell locks, trapped McGuinn, 41, a guard known for his strict adherence to rules, in a corridor and stabbed him with homemade knives July 25, 2006.

McGuinn's death came after three inmates were fatally stabbed that year by other inmates and two officers were attacked. The antiquated prison was closed in March 2007.

Stephens, a convicted murderer who is being held at the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, also known as "Supermax," sat hunched between his defense attorneys at yesterday's hearing, his feet shackled and his face partially obscured by a fringe of dreadlocks. Members of McGuinn's family sat somberly behind prosecutors.

Witness B, who is being held at an undisclosed location, was led into the courtroom with his hands and feet shackled. He exchanged quick glances with the defendant, a man he knew in prison by the name "Shy," but fixed his gaze on the courtroom wall as he testified that he was questioned by investigators several times after the attack. The witness also testified that he identified Stephens from a stack of photos of about three dozen other inmates from their tier.

Circuit Judge Paul A. Hackner denied a defense motion to disregard Witness B's identification of Stephens. He said that he will issue a ruling at a later date on an unusual motion by defense attorneys to withdraw the death penalty because they say they are not sufficiently compensated by the Maryland Public Defender's Office for their services.

julie.scharper@baltsun.com

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