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Plea in slaying

Shriner gets 25-year sentence

Shriner gets 25-year sentence

January 20, 2006|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Breaking what had become almost a routine of courtroom appearances, Larry Wayne Shriner took his spot at a Washington County Circuit Court defense table Thursday and pleaded guilty to second- degree murder in the 2004 beating death of Curtis Eugene Hill Sr.

Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley ordered Shriner, 22, to serve 25 years in prison for Hill's Nov. 3, 2004, death. On Jan. 4, Beachley sentenced Shriner's co-defendant, Justin Kyle Marshall, 18, to serve the same sentence after Marshall pleaded guilty to the same charge a couple of weeks before.

The pair beat Hill, 46, between 12:30 and 1 a.m. and dragged him beneath a tree by Russo's Rx Pharmacy on North Cannon Avenue in Hagerstown. He was found dead about 7 a.m. by a passer-by.

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On Thursday, Shriner, glancing back and forth between Hill's family and the floor, said, "To Mr. Hill's family, I'm sorry for what happened. We all make mistakes and I've got to pay for what I did."

The hearing Thursday was scheduled for Beachley's ruling on a motion to suppress the tape-recorded statement Shriner gave Hagerstown Police Department detectives at the time of his arrest.

Beachley told Shriner he was planning to rule in favor of him and would have kept that statement out of his scheduled February trial, but Shriner agreed to proceed with his plea. Before he pronounced sentence, Beachley said, "I don't want Mr. Hill to be forgotten." He added that he was glad Hill's mother, Mary Franklin, brought a framed picture of her son to court with her Thursday.

Franklin, holding the picture, told Shriner she wished he would have known her son, who she said had "a disposition that was unreal." "I just can't understand why anybody would do that to someone," she said.

Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell said that Hill's beating was "brutal," and Shriner and Marshall could have stopped the fight after Marshall threw the first punch.

Kessell said Hill had been drinking at Camryn's Tavern until about midnight and was walking toward McDonald's or Sheetz to get something to eat when he ran into Shriner and Marshall. Hill, whose blood alcohol content was measured at his autopsy at .33, was too drunk to pose a threat to anyone that morning, Kessell said.

"Apparently, (Hill) was urinating in an alley when Mr. Shriner said you're not allowed to do that," Kessell said.

Words were exchanged, Marshall punched Hill, he fell to the ground and they proceeded to kick him. Hill died from multiple blunt force trauma, Kessell said.

Tread marks from Marshall's sneaker were imprinted on his face, he said. Kessell said he does not believe the two men were out to kill someone that night, but if they hadn't kicked him repeatedly, "Mr. Hill might not have died."

They dragged Hill from the alley underneath the tree because "they didn't want him to get hit by a car," Kessell said. He said Shriner and Marshall went to a party and bragged about beating a man.

Shriner checked on Hill twice over the course of the morning because "he just wanted to make sure he wasn't moving."

His attorney, Richard Winters, said later that Shriner wanted to check to make sure he still was breathing. He said, "If he had known he would cause Mr. Hill's death, he would have called the hospital ..."

Shriner showed more remorse than Marshall because he did check on him, Winters said. In explaining Shriner's background, Winters said Shriner was physically and emotionally abused growing up.

At age 13, he began smoking marijuana and drinking, he said. He has a 2-year-old daughter that he would like to have a part in raising, Winters said. Shriner received his GED at the Washington County Detention Center last week after three tries, Winters said.

He has been held at the jail since Nov. 4, 2004, a jail spokeswoman has said. He now is taking an adult education class and has started taking anger management classes, Winters said.

Franklin said after the hearing that she was happy Shriner received the same sentence as Marshall. "You can't bring him back, but at least it's over," she said. "I just wish they would have known him."

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