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Judge hears bar death case

Shawn E. Golden is charged with reckless endangerment in the fatal shooting at Log Cabin Inn

Shawn E. Golden is charged with reckless endangerment in the fatal shooting at Log Cabin Inn

March 28, 2003|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

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Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Robert Veil stared at his watch Thursday in Washington County Circuit Court, watching the seconds tick by, as William A. Weicht's family members whispered the numbers in the benches behind him.

Veil gave the demonstration during his cross-examination of defendant Shawn E. Golden to illustrate that Golden had time to consider before firing the shot that killed Weicht at a Hancock bar on Dec. 26, 2001.

Weicht, 33, of Warfordsburg, Pa., was shot once in the chest at the Log Cabin Inn. He died at Washington County Hospital.

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Golden, 22, of 31912 Mud Lick Road N.E. in Little Orleans, Md., stood trial Thursday on a charge of reckless endangerment in the fatal shooting. A grand jury indicted him on the charge on Nov. 8, 2002.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley heard the case Thursday. Golden chose a trial by judge instead of by jury.

Veil and defense attorney Wiley Rutledge gave their closing arguments Thursday afternoon. A ruling on the case is expected within 30 days after next Thursday, the deadline for Veil and Rutledge, to file briefs.

James Keefer testified that he was helping Weicht tend bar that December night at the Log Cabin Inn. Keefer said that at about 10:30 p.m., Golden and his friend, Gerrit Myers, walked into the bar.

Golden "was loud and drunk. ... He said he just left Hardee's parking lot where he got in a fight," Keefer said.

Weicht overheard the conversation and got angry that Golden's fight might have been with a family member, Keefer said.

The two calmed down, shook hands and bought each other drinks, witnesses who had been at the bar that night testified. But then Weicht went into a back room, brought out a gun and asked Keefer and Myers to leave the room, leaving only Weicht and Golden in the bar, witnesses including Keefer and Myers testified.

During his testimony, Golden said "I happened to look over .... My eyes stopped on the barrel of the gun."

Rutledge, in his opening statement, said Golden "was scared." He said Weicht waved the gun and asked Golden to take the gun from him and shoot him.

Golden grabbed the .22-caliber pistol, Rutledge said. Weicht lunged at Golden, who fired one shot, hitting Weicht in the chest, Rutledge said.

The whole episode was "quite literally a matter of eight to 12 seconds," Rutledge said.

Police were called at 11:10 p.m. Weicht was pronounced dead just after midnight at Washington County Hospital.

Veil, citing Golden's testimony, said Golden was an experienced hunter and he knew that a gun could kill.

"The choice not to leave the bar at that time (when he took the gun from Weicht) was voluntary," Veil said. "That gun does not go off accidentally."

A conviction on a reckless endangerment charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.

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