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Judge delays ruling on evidence

October 28, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III said Wednesday that he would review the files of two men indicted on felony murder counts before ruling on whether statements they made to police were illegally obtained and should be suppressed at trial.

Wright made the announcement following the second day of a suppression hearing held in Washington County Circuit Court to determine whether statements made to police by Tyshawn Jones and Azaniah Blankumsee that placed them at the scene of the March 14 fatal shooting of Jonathan M. Dennis should be suppressed.

Jones, 23, whose last known address before his arrest was 113 S. Locust St. in Hagerstown, and Blankumsee, 26, whose last known address before his arrest was 658 N. Prospect St. in Hagerstown, were indicted on felony murder charges and related counts in connection with Dennis' death at a Washington Gardens Apartments & Townhouses courtyard in the east end of Hagerstown.

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Police had pursued Blankumsee for Dennis' death because witnesses said he fired a .380-caliber gun at Dennis and because shell casings matching that gun were found at the scene, Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said Tuesday. But police later discovered through an autopsy that Dennis was killed with a .22-caliber bullet, Michael said Tuesday.

Jones made a statement to police on May 4 that he had fired a .22-caliber handgun into the air the night of the homicide. Blankumsee had told police that he was at the scene of the homicide, but said that other men shot in the direction of Dennis.

Attorneys for the co-defendants said they wanted those statements excluded from trial.

Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison, co-counsel for Blankumsee, asked Wednesday that the name of a confidential informant who tipped off police to Blankumsee's arrival at a Greyhound bus station be released to the defense, arguing that the informant may have been linked to the state.

Assistant Public Defender Stephen Musselman, co-counsel for Blankumsee, also asked that charges against his client of felony murder, stemming from an armed robbery to which Tione Kenneth Blake pleaded guilty on Tuesday, be severed since "the two alleged crimes are so distinct."

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