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Judge denies request to change plea

January 29, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A Hagerstown man who admitted to first-degree felony murder in the August 1997 slaying of Matthew Roy Hovis tried unsuccessfully Thursday to withdraw his guilty plea.

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick Wright denied David Paul Paschall's request and sentenced the Hagerstown man to life in prison, with all but 40 years suspended.

"I don't want to plead guilty to something I had no knowledge was going to happen," Paschall, 24, said.

But Wright reminded him that he answered more than a dozen questions last September saying he understood what could happen if he pleaded guilty.

"The transcript indicates you were perfectly aware of the consequences," Wright said. "There were no unfulfilled promises made to you."

Co-defendant Jerome Bernard Lockley, 19, pleaded guilty to first-degree felony murder and a handgun violation and was sentenced recently to life in prison. Lockley confessed to being the shooter.

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In return for the guilty pleas, the state dropped additional charges, including first-degree premeditated murder, against both Paschall and Lockley.

Prosecutors gave the following account of the crime:

On Aug. 25 at 12:23 p.m., residents called police to say they heard shots fired. Three Hagerstown City Police officers responding to the calls went to the rear of the bookstore at 23 E. Washington St.

The officers found Hovis on the ground. Hovis, 25, of Waynesboro, Pa., had been shot once in the left temple. He died at Washington County Hospital.

Police learned that Paschall and Hovis went out that night looking for someone to rob. They hung out at a Baltimore Street car wash for a while, then went to the rear of the bookstore where they surprised Hovis.

Paschall told officers that when the night began he didn't think Lockley was really going to rob anyone. He also told police he thought Lockley was only carrying a BB gun.

Prosecutors said Lockley told police the gun went off accidentally when he tried to uncock it during the robbery.

At Thursday's sentencing, Paschall turned to the Hovis family and apologized.

"It's hard to sleep at night sometimes," Paschall said. He currently is housed at the Maryland Correctional Institution.

The 40-year sentence will be served consecutively to the five-year term Paschall recently earned for an unrelated burglary.

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