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Murder trial ends with plea

February 07, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - As his murder trial was about to enter its second day, Raheen Tajohn Edwin pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to a lesser charge of attempted first-degree murder in the July 2006 shooting death of a 20-year-old woman in Hagerstown.

As part of the plea agreement, Edwin agreed to testify against Demetrius Pierre McDaniels, who is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Trisiviah Rodriguez on East Franklin Street on July 31, 2006.

Edwin, 31, also pleaded guilty Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court to the use of a handgun in the commission of a violent crime. The charges against Edwin were amended from first-degree murder, second-degree murder and first-degree assault.

Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said Edwin was armed during the shooting, but he did not fire the fatal shot. Edwin, whose last known address was in Brooklyn, N.Y., will not be sentenced until after he testifies in McDaniels' trial, which is to begin Feb. 26 in Washington County Circuit Court.

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If Edwin does not cooperate in McDaniels' trial, he is subject to the maximum sentence that each charge carries, Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley said. An attempted first-degree murder conviction carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Edwin told Beachley that he had "plenty of time" to consider the deal.

"I'm clear about everything," Edwin said.

Beachley said he normally would not accept such a plea. But Michael and defense attorney Wiley Rutledge convinced him that the plea was in the interest of justice, Beachley said.

Forensic evidence shows that the fatal shots came from a semiautomatic pistol, which would mean Edwin was not the shooter, Michael said. During testimony Monday afternoon, prosecution witness Donnie Wright described Edwin's weapon as a dark, .32-caliber revolver.

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