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Stallings says police testimony is flawed

June 29, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - A man charged with the February shooting death of a Maugansville woman testified Tuesday during a pretrial hearing that his interview with police investigators after his arrest didn't happen the way police testified, saying he asked twice for a polygraph but never asked for an attorney.

Ricky Rinaldo Stallings Jr., 23, who is charged with first-degree murder in the Feb. 8 shooting death of Mary Elizabeth Williams, 34, took the witness stand in Washington County Circuit Court after several police investigators testified during a suppression hearing about the way in which his vehicle was searched and how he was arrested and interviewed.

Assistant Public Defender Eric Reed told Circuit Judge John H. McDowell that he was seeking to keep some evidence out of Stallings' September trial. That evidence related to a gunshot residue test and clothes taken during Stallings' police interview, as well as a shell casing, cell phone and checkbook taken during a search of his Chevrolet Blazer. All the evidence was collected after Stallings was arrested at Chambersburg Pipe and Steel Supply Co. the day of the shooting.

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After nearly three hours of testimony Tuesday, McDowell called for a recess and requested that a hearing be scheduled sometime next week for closing arguments. He said he would make his decision on the motions then.

Washington County Sheriff's Department Sgt. Mark Knight testified Tuesday that he took notes during Investigator Christopher Weaver's interview of Stallings. He said Weaver went over Stallings' Miranda rights with him, Stallings signed off and then Weaver questioned him about what he did the morning of the shooting, to which Stallings' gave two mostly different stories, neither of which implicated him in Williams' death.

Charging documents allege Stallings shot at Williams on Alpine Drive, just outside her 13915 Maugansville Road home, at about 8 a.m. after she got into a friend's car to go to work. Her friend, Christopher Hobart, drove her to the Sheriff's Department, but she slumped over on the way and later was pronounced dead, according to court documents. Hobart picked Stallings as the shooter after looking over a photo lineup, documents state.

Stallings told police he stayed at his wife's house overnight, woke up and followed her at about 6:45 a.m. to Brook Lane, where she worked, dropped some diapers off at his mother's house and went to work at 8:15 a.m., making him late for his shift, Knight testified. Stallings' second story left out Brook Lane but included that he picked up his friend that morning and dropped him off at Locust Point and then brought him home, Knight testified.

Stallings, whose address is listed on charging documents as 6088 Molly Pitcher Highway in Chambersburg, told police he believed he was arrested because he was living outside of Maryland and was in violation of his probation, Knight testified.

One of Stallings' attorneys, Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison, questioned Knight, and later Weaver, about their interviewing styles, how much of what happened in the interview made their reports and at what point and for what reason the interview ended.

Knight and Weaver testified that when Stallings asked for an attorney, they stopped the interview.

Stallings testified that when the investigators told him that he was being interviewed because of the shooting, "I said, 'Well, I'm done. You ain't gonna believe me anyway.'"

Stallings said he then asked a second time for a polygraph, but the investigators denied it, and his clothes and a test for gunshot residue were taken.

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