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Grand jury convenes in Finfrock case

January 10, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

Washington County State's Attorney M. Kenneth Long Jr. presented the homicide case of Shirley P. Finfrock to a grand jury Friday morning, but its decision was not known late Friday, police and court officials said.

A grand jury hears testimony from witnesses and can issue charges in connection with a crime through an indictment, if it finds probable cause to do so.

No one has been charged in connection with Finfrock's death.

The proceedings Friday in Washington County Circuit Court were the first since a man identified as a person of interest was taken into custody days after Finfrock's death.

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Police said Finfrock's body was discovered Nov. 12 by her husband in their Holiday Drive home near Smithsburg. The Maryland Chief Medical Examiner's Office ruled her death a homicide two days later. She was 68.

On Nov. 15, police took into custody a man who fit a description of someone seen walking near the home the day of Finfrock's death. He was questioned for 15 hours and since has been held on unrelated assault charges.

Police sealed off the Finfrocks' home for three days and placed into evidence more than 100 items, many of which were sent to the Maryland State Police Forensic Division for genetic testing, investigators said.

The grand jury convened Friday at 9:30 a.m. All grand jury proceedings are secret, and no members of the public are allowed in the hearings. Clerks in the criminal section of the Circuit Court - where indictments are first filed - said Friday afternoon that no indictments had been filed there.

Washington County Sheriff's Capt. Douglas Mullendore, second in command of the Sheriff's Office, said that two sheriff's investigators, Sgt. Mark Knight and Cpl. Roy Harsh, testified before the grand jury Friday. They notified his office they had finished at about 12:45 p.m.

Mullendore said he did not know if the grand jury had made its decision by Friday afternoon. He said he did not expect to know until next week.

Mullendore said being able to take a case before a grand jury is a sign that the case is progressing.

"Any time you have the state's attorney, and the police agency feels they have enough evidence to go before the grand jury, that's a significant step," Mullendore said.

"You never want to do that until you feel prepared to present the case to an actual jury," Mullendore said.

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