Woman held in witness threat

Suspect, alleged victim apparently had ties to boyfriend charged in killing

March 28, 2009|By Nick Madigan | Nick Madigan,nick.madigan@baltsun.com

A Columbia woman is being held without bail after being charged with using a gun to intimidate a key witness in a Baltimore County murder case against the woman's boyfriend.

Authorities said Leah Creecy, 22, approached the witness, Tyrice McCant, in her car Tuesday in the Park Heights neighborhood and, pointing a handgun, threatened to kill McCant if she were to testify against Joseph W. Payne, one of four men charged in the August 2007 killing of a teen whose burning body was found in Villa Nova Park.

Payne has apparently had relationships with both women. In a complaint filed in Baltimore City District Court, McCant says she had a child with Payne and Creecy is now Payne's girlfriend.

"I'm scared that if I show up for court she will kill me," McCant says her in her complaint, which she filed less than two hours after their encounter.

Creecy was charged with first-degree assault and intimidating a witness, as well as two handgun offenses. A preliminary hearing has been set for April 22.

In her complaint, McCant says Creecy told her that if Payne "goes to jail or I show up in court for his murder trial that me and my kids would die." McCant, who has two sons, ages 3 and 7, also says Creecy "calls my phone telling me she knows where I live and go to school and she will kill me."

During a motions hearing last summer, McCant was identified as the anonymous tipster whose call led to Payne's arrest in the death of Glen Michael Stewart, 17, who was shot and set afire in a wooded area of the park. Prosecutors said Stewart's killers feared that he intended to provide police with incriminating evidence about a robbery.

On Jan. 15, one of the four men, Christopher D. Johnson, 25, was sentenced to life in prison after being found guilty of first-degree murder, kidnapping and using a gun in a violent crime.

Payne's trial is scheduled to begin July 13 before Baltimore County Circuit Judge Kathleen G. Cox. The other two defendants, Desmond H.W. Jones, 19, and Jason M. Bond, 23, will be tried later.

In McCant's complaint, she says that she and Creecy "have a past." Court records bear that out. In April 2006, McCant was found guilty of assaulting Creecy and sentenced to three years, with all but a month suspended.

In June that year, McCant asked a judge for protection from Creecy, who was ordered to refrain from abusing her and to stay away from her.

In September, Creecy filed a criminal complaint against McCant in Howard County District Court, accusing her of stalking, harassment and making repeated telephone calls to her. That case is pending.

Michael E. Kaminkow, a lawyer who is to represent Payne in his murder trial, said Friday that Creecy is "a very nice lady" with no criminal history and that McCant's latest accusations against her are "what's called retribution" for Creecy's filing of stalking charges against her.

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