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Ehrlich grants clemency to city man

March 01, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich has granted clemency to a Hagerstown man sentenced to life in prison for a 1977 felony murder conviction in connection with the death of a grocery store owner, according to a written release from Henry P. Fawell, a spokesman for the governor.

Ehrlich on Friday conditionally commuted a life sentence to a fixed term of 50 years for Charles Terrell Walters Jr., 56, of Hagerstown, who was convicted in 1977 of felony murder, robbery with a deadly weapon, assault and use of a handgun in connection with the March 15, 1975, death of Charlie Hull, who was the owner of Hull's Store on Pope Avenue and Wilson Boulevard.

Walters was sentenced to life for the murder conviction, a 10-year concurrent sentence for robbery with a deadly weapon, a five-year concurrent sentence for assault and a five-year consecutive sentence for the handgun violation.

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Walters, who has served more than 29 years of his sentence, will not be released immediately from the Division of Correction, Fawell said. Before he becomes eligible for parole, Walters, who was described in the release as an "exemplary inmate," must complete 18 months of work release with good behavior.

According to the written release and published accounts: Walters and Isaac Newton Johnson were robbing the grocery store when Hull intervened. Johnson fatally shot Hull in the chest. When the two men were apprehended, Walters had a .32-caliber pistol in his possession, but the victim was shot with a .38-caliber pistol, traced to Johnson. Johnson was sentenced to life plus 20 years. He remains incarcerated.

In 1982, one of the prosecuting attorneys in the murder case, Darrow Glaser, recalled: "It came out in the testimony of the witnesses with whom the defendants had contact shortly after the murder that Walters was upset and concerned ... I believed that Walters was as surprised as anyone when the gun went off and (the victim) was shot, " according to the written release.

In 2002, Washington County Circuit Judge John H. McDowell resentenced Walters to life with all but 45 years suspended for felony murder, five years concurrent for assault and five years consecutive for use of a handgun in a crime of violence, according to the release.

The victim's family and the Washington County Office of the State's Attorney were consulted on the commutation and none objected to the granting of executive clemency, the release says.

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