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Man gets 45-year sentence in shooting

February 10, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

A man previously convicted of first-degree felony murder was back in Washington County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon for a resentencing hearing.

Maryland's Court of Appeals earlier vacated the count of felony murder on which Azaniah Blankumsee was convicted in connection with the March 14, 2004, shooting death of Jonathan M. Dennis. Felony murder is a murder committed during the commission of a felony, such as robbery, burglary or kidnapping.

The Court of Appeals sent the case back for resentencing to Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, who presided over Friday's hearing.

As a result, Blankumsee now will serve 45 years on charges of attempted second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault charges, reckless endangerment and other charges related to gunfire that came shortly after a separate armed robbery.

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Originally, the sentences for those charges were to run concurrently with the sentence for the felony murder charge. The Court of Special Appeals found that too much time elapsed between the murder and armed robbery for the felony murder rules to apply. On Friday, Beachley considered the armed robbery charge separately from the murder charge.

Blankumsee, 26, said nothing in court as he stood with his hands clasped behind his back. He was convicted in December 2004 of first-degree felony murder in the death of Dennis, 19.

Dennis was fatally shot in a Washington Gardens Apartments courtyard. The shooting came after the armed robbery of Dennis' then 13-year-old cousin.

In February 2005, Beachley sentenced Blankumsee to serve life for the first-degree felony murder conviction in Dennis' death, and to several concurrent sentences related to the gunfire in the Washington Gardens Apartments courtyard on the morning of Dennis' death.

Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael asked Beachley to impose the "lengthiest sentence" possible and reiterated his arguments from the 2004 trial during Friday's hearing. Blankumsee "set in motion the events that ended the life" of Dennis, Michael said Friday.

Blankumsee must now serve 45 years, Beachley ordered.

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