Randallstown man found guilty of killing apartment worker

February 22, 2010|By Nick Madigan | nick.madigan@baltsun.com

After deliberating for less than three hours, a jury on Monday found a 24-year-old Randallstown man guilty of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a maintenance worker he thought had burglarized his apartment.

The defendant, Kirk Anthony Bell, shook his head slowly as the jury forewoman pronounced him responsible for the murder of Edward Jackson, who was 37 when he died on April 20 of a single bullet wound while the two men were having a heated conversation. Bell was also found guilty of using a handgun during a violent crime.

"Your honor, I didn't do it, though," Bell said to Baltimore County Circuit Judge H. Patrick Stringer Jr.

"Speak to your lawyer," the judge responded, pointing to defense attorney Marc L. Zayon, who stood beside him.

After his client had been led away by a pair of bailiffs, Zayon said it was the defense's contention that another man, Paul Marshall, who is Bell's cousin, had been the triggerman. But Marshall testified during the four-day trial that although he had accompanied Bell that day to the Owings Chase apartment complex, he had sat in the car listening to music while his cousin went to the leasing office to complain about the theft of $600, a video game system and other items. Marshall said he did not get out of the car.

A man who lived next to the leasing office testified to having heard Bell arguing with Jackson and, looking out, seeing the victim fall to the ground. Another witnesses testified to seeing Bell put something in his pocket after the shooting.

Bell had paid a previous visit to the leasing office, immediately after the burglary three days earlier, and had been heard to say, "If I find out who it is, I've got a gun, and I'm going to blow their head off," according testimony at the trial.

Although the .45-caliber gun used to kill Jackson was not recovered, detectives found 79 rounds of ammunition in Bell's apartment. On four of them, so-called "feed marks"--the marks left on ammunition when it is loaded--matched those found on a shell casing at the scene of the killing.

Prosecutor Rachel Cogen said after the trial that it was not clear why Bell had assumed it was Jackson who broke into his apartment. She said there was no evidence he had stolen anything, and that there had been other burglaries at the Owings Chase complex before Jackson began working there a couple of months before the shooting.

"The family would like it understood that he was a real decent, hardworking, wonderful man, and they're mourning," Cogen said of Jackson's relatives, some of whom attended Monday's hearing.

Cogen said she would recommend that Bell be sent to prison for life without parole when he is sentenced on May 5.

"It was a difficult case for the defense," Zayon said. "But I strongly believe in his innocence and we will immediately file an appeal, and are very confident that it will be successful."

The prosecutor's office said that Bell was convicted in 2005 of being an accessory after the fact in an attempted first-degree murder, and was sentenced to five years in prison with half the term suspended.

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