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'When I came back out, she was dead'

February 27, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler described a young woman lying in a pool of her own blood next to bags of trash on East Franklin Street in downtown Hagerstown.

After shots rang out in the early-morning hours of July 31, 2006, Trisiviah Rodriguez was found on her stomach, dead from a gunshot wound to the head. Witnesses scattered into the night, afraid to talk with police, Pauler said Monday during her opening statement in the trial of the man charged with murder in the 20-year-old woman's death.

The trial of Demetrius "Meach" Pierr McDaniels began Monday afternoon in Washington County Circuit Court.

McDaniels, 28, whose last known address is 1052 D Noland Drive, is charged with first-degree felony murder, first-degree murder and second-degree murder, among other charges.

The count of felony murder reflects that McDaniels is accused of committing murder during the commission of other crimes. At the defense's request, Washington County Circuit Judge M. Kenneth Long Jr. dismissed two related handgun charges against McDaniels before the trial.

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Assistant Public Defender Carl Creeden called downtown Hagerstown "a different world" after nightfall during his opening statement for the defense.

Patricia Knode, who was walking on East Franklin Street the night of the shooting, identified McDaniels as the man she heard say "(Expletive) this, we're going to go take care of this right now." McDaniels was walking with another black man at the time, Knode testified.

A few minutes after passing the men, Knode heard "bap, bap, bap" sounds that she thought were gunshots, she testified. She ran back and saw a white car pulling away, and a young woman lying on the ground in a pool of blood, Knode testified.

When police took her statement at the police department, Knode saw McDaniels and identified him as the person who made the comment about taking care of this, she testified.

Hagerstown Police Department Detective Shawn Schultz testified that Knode "gasped for air" and said "'Oh my god, that's him'" when she saw McDaniels at the police station.

Hagerstown Police Department officer Clifton Briggs testified that he remembers people screaming "she's dead" and "he shot her" when he arrived at the scene. He saw a woman lying facedown and "it was quite clear she was deceased," he testified.

Hagerstown Police Department officer Timothy Rossiter drove down East Franklin Street just minutes before he responded to the call for shots fired in that area, he testified. After responding to the call and speaking with two people on the street, Rossiter attempted to find a white vehicle that sped from the scene, he testified. He couldn't find the white vehicle and returned to the corner of East Franklin and North Locust streets, where he found several shell casings, he testified.

Hagerstown Police Department officer Christopher Watt testified that when he arrived at the scene, witnesses were visibly upset and didn't want to stay in the area.

A 13-year-old girl testified Monday, occasionally wiping her eyes.

"I want to go home," she said as she sobbed at one point during her testimony.

Trisiviah Rodriguez had been her friend, the girl said. They were outside together on Franklin Street the night of July 30, 2006, when she saw two men walking up and down the street.

The men then pulled out guns, she testified, and she said she ran into a building.

"When I came back out, she was dead," the girl testified.

In response to Creeden's questioning, the girl said she did not see Rodriguez get shot, and she did not see either of the men fire weapons.

She ran into the building, "because I didn't want to be shot," she said.

Another of the state's juvenile witnesses was not present when she was called to testify, and Long issued a body attachment for her. A body attachment directs law enforcement to take custody of someone and bring him or her to court.

McDaniels' trial, which is expected to last three or four days, resumes this morning.

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