Not guilty plea entered in Hammersla case

January 22, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

A not guilty plea was entered last week by an attorney representing Jack L. Hammersla Jr. on murder charges, according to court records.

Hammersla, 46, was charged in a Jan. 10 grand jury indictment with the murder of Shirley P. Finfrock.

Records state Public Defender Mary Riley entered the not guilty plea on Hammersla's behalf on Jan. 14. Riley requested a jury trial and demanded a speedy trial.

Riley said Wednesday that she and Public Defender Brian Hutchison would defend Hammersla. She declined to comment on her client and all other aspects of the case.


Washington County State's Attorney Kenneth Long said Hammersla's next court appearance had not been scheduled. Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Steve Kessell will be the prosecuting attorney, Long said.

The body of Finfrock, 68, was found by her husband, Edwyn Finfrock, on Nov. 12, 2003, at 11:30 a.m. at her 22128 Holiday Drive home. She died of blunt force trauma to the head, Washington County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Doug Mullendore said.

Hammersla was charged in the indictment with first- and second-degree murder, first-degree felony murder-robbery, first-degree felony murder-first-degree burglary, first degree felony murder-third-degree burglary, robbery, theft under $500, first-degree assault, second-degree assault, malicious destruction of property, and first-, third- and fourth-degree burglary, records state.

Hammersla, believed to be homeless, has been in custody since Nov. 15 on two unrelated second-degree assault charges, Mullendore said. Authorities allege in court records that Hammersla punched his father, Jack Hammersla Sr., of 116 W. Water St. in Smithsburg, on two occasions, the second time on Nov. 12.

Hammersla was being held Wednesday night at the Washington County Detention Center on $100,000 bond on the assault charges, a spokesman said.

Hammersla, convicted on a 1981 charge of assault with intent to murder, was released from the Maryland Correctional Training Center south of Hagerstown in March 2003, Department of Corrections officials said.

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