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Man pleads guilty in beating death

December 23, 2005|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - The younger of two men charged in the November 2004 beating death of Curtis Eugene Hill Sr. pleaded guilty Thursday morning in Washington County Circuit Court to second-degree murder.

A conviction on a second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley set a Jan. 4, 2006, sentencing date for Justin Kyle Marshall, 18, and ordered that he be held without bond until then.

Except for answering questions posed by the judge, Marshall's only statement was acknowledging he was on probation as a juvenile when the murder occurred.

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As part of the plea negotiations, Marshall agreed to testify truthfully in the trial of co-defendant Larry Wayne Shriner, 21, whose trial is scheduled for late February.

Both men were indicted on charges of first- and second-degree murder, among a series of related counts, in Hill's Nov. 3, 2004, beating death.

A passer-by found Hill's beaten body under a tree near Russo's Rx Pharmacy on North Cannon Avenue in Hagerstown shortly before 8 a.m.

Charging documents allege that Hill was beaten, dragged to that spot and left there to die.

Assistant Washington County State's Attorney Steven Kessell said in court Thursday that Hagerstown City Police turned up several witnesses who said Marshall had blood on his clothing and his sneakers when he was with them on Nov. 3, 2004.

Kessell said Marshall talked to several of those people about beating a man.

Police also learned that Marshall was in a vehicle with Shriner and two women that drove near the Cannon Avenue pharmacy so Shriner could get out and look under a tree, Kessell said. When Shriner got back in the vehicle, he mentioned something about the guy not moving, Kessell said.

"Mr. Marshall was heard bragging about 'kicking a man's butt,'" Kessell said.

During the investigation, Marshall's bloody clothing and sneakers were recovered from his grandmother's house, Kessell said. The items tested positive for blood, and through DNA testing, the blood was found to match Hill's.

When Marshall gave a statement to police, he said Shriner told him Hill had been urinating in an alley and Shriner told him that wasn't allowed, Kessell said. Then Hill was beaten and kicked, Kessell said.

After accepting the plea Thursday morning, Beachley dismissed all other charges against Marshall.

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