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Relief denied for 30-year sentence

April 10, 2000|By MARLO BARNHART

A Washington County Circuit Judge Monday denied Timothy Lorne Massie's request for post-conviction relief from his 30-year prison sentence in the 1995 Valentine's Day strangulation death of his estranged wife.

But Judge Kennedy Boone held off ruling on a request that the matter be sent back to Circuit Judge Frederick Wright, who sentenced Massie, for reconsideration of the sentence he imposed.

That legal right wasn't sought within the legal time limit of 90 days after sentencing in October 1996.

Two years ago, Maryland's highest court upheld Massie's conviction by a jury and Judge Frederick Wright's maximum 30-year sentence for second-degree murder.

Massie, 36, of Hagerstown, is at the Roxbury Correctional Institution south of Hagerstown.

Testifying Monday for the first time since he was charged with murder, Massie alleged his trial attorney, Gordon Lynn, was incompetent.

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In one instance, Massie included Wright in his argument that his entire trial was also unfair.

"I feel Mr. Lynn worked with Judge Wright and the state to get the trial over with ... because I was so stupid about the law," Massie said.

Lynn countered that he basically shut down his law practice for a month while he was handling the Massie case, giving it his full attention and that of a hired investigator.

"I did advise Massie and his family that an appeal would take the case out of Judge Wright's hands," Lynn said. He said he didn't file for a reconsideration that would necessarily have gone before Wright.

Lynn testified Monday that the case boiled down to trial testimony from forensic chemist Jeff Kercheval, who offered his opinion of the time of Debra Massie's death over defense objections at the trial.

"I didn't think Judge Wright would let in Kercheval's testimony, but he did after a 20-minute bench conference where I objected," Lynn said.

Kercheval's testimony was the only issue raised for the Maryland Court of Appeals to consider. That court ruled that Kercheval's testimony on the range of time of death didn't warrant a reversal.

Debra Massie was found strangled to death in her home at 311 Jefferson St. two weeks after she filed for divorce from Timothy Massie.

Defense attorney Adam Himelfarb said Massie trusted Lynn to represent him aggressively.

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