City Man Convicted Of 2 Killings In Odenton

Victims Were Shot Outside Bar Near Fort Meade

November 05, 2009|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Andrea.siegel@baltsun.com

A Baltimore man who prosecutors say boasted to police about his toughness was convicted Wednesday of two counts of first-degree murder and other charges in a fatal ambush outside an Odenton bar a year ago.

Anne Arundel County prosecutors are seeking life in prison without parole for Russell K. Harden in the Nov. 16 shootings that took the lives of two Annapolis men and wounded two others.

Judge William C. Mulford II scheduled sentencing for Dec. 23.

Harden, 26, threw a candy wrapper onto the courtroom floor after a jury convicted him of murder, attempted murder and weapons charges. The conviction, coming after three hours of deliberation, ended a weeklong trial that featured one of his two co-defendants as the star witness.

Assistant Public Defender Stanley Robbins said he "most likely" would seek to appeal.

In closing arguments Wednesday morning, he told jurors that the prosecution's "case consisted of the testimony of four liars."

They were among more than 40 witnesses who testified. A key witness was James Samuel Watkins, 21, of Brooklyn Park, who received a 45-year prison sentence for two counts of first-degree murder in exchange for his testimony against the father of his sister's baby.

Watkins said he, Harden and Damon Daryl Dodd, 32, of Baltimore, who is scheduled for trial next year, sneaked up on the victims, who were drinking in their car outside the Traffic Bar and Lounge. The bar is across Annapolis Road from Fort Meade.

Watkins testified that the group attacked because while inside the bar, he was told there had been "some guys out front surrounding my sister's truck with guns and masks." The trio believed it was the group in the car.

Watkins' sister, Kecia Liverpool, 32, is scheduled for trial next year on charges that she drove a getaway car.

At the time of the shootings, however, officials suspected the hail of gunfire grew out of a dispute between Harden and one of the men in the car, Terrence James Covington, 25, who was killed along with Demarcus Terrell Beans, 20. Both ran from the car, collapsed and died in the parking lot.

The jury was not told that three days before the shootings, Harden had been placed on house arrest with electronic monitoring in connection with a federal gun conviction.

Over the past week, the jury saw snips of dark security videos that show three men walking toward one section of the parking lot and later leaving the area and heading toward getaway cars.

"It's really hard to explain away what the video camera caught," Assistant State's Attorney Michael J. Dunty told the jury.

The shootings were not captured on video. No guns were recovered, and witnesses said Harden's group threw away the guns they used and the clothes they wore.

The verdict left the victims' and Harden's families in tears. All declined to comment.

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