Jury begins deliberating murder case

March 01, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - After two hours of deliberations Wednesday night, jurors in Washington County Circuit Court were unable to reach a verdict in the murder trial of a man charged in the shooting death of a 20-year-old woman on East Franklin Street in July 31, 2006.

Demetrius "Meach" Pierre McDaniels, 28, is charged with felony first-degree murder, first-degree murder and second-degree murder in the death of Trisiviah Rodriguez.

The jury is set to resume deliberations today at 9 a.m.

Witnesses for the prosecution on Wednesday included an expert in the area of firearm examination, a Hagerstown Police Department detective and the woman who McDaniels was living with at the time of the shooting.

Amy Beard testified that McDaniels lived with her and her two children in Noland Village during the summer of 2006. She was friends with McDaniels, but they did not have a romantic relationship, she said. He paid her some rent money and helped her with her 4-year-old and 6-year-old, Beard testified.


Her son's fourth birthday party was July 30, 2006, at the Noland Village community center, Beard testified before weeping on the witness stand. McDaniels and another man, Raheen Tajohn Edwin, brought presents to the party, she said.

Edwin pleaded guilty in early February to attempted first-degree murder in Rodriguez's death. He testified in McDaniels' trial Tuesday.

Beard testified that after the children were in bed that night, she and some friends were drinking and smoking marijuana. McDaniels and Edwin left in a white Dodge Charger that was being driven by Daynard Johnson, she said.

McDaniels returned to her home, alone, at 1 or 2 a.m. on July 31, Beard testified. Police took him into custody at her home later that morning.

Jeffrey Kercheval of the Western Maryland Regional Crime Lab in Hagerstown described collecting two gold rings, two dollar bills, a T-shirt and other items from Rodriguez's body in the early morning hours of July 31.

Kercheval also testified about retrieving a projectile from the door jamb at 65 E. Franklin St. in August 2006 and examining the inside of a white Dodge Charger said to be used as a getaway vehicle after the shooting.Hagerstown Police Sgt. Jim Robison, unit supervisor for the Street Crimes Unit, testified that McDaniels cooperated with police when he was confronted at Beard's residence the morning of July 31.

During closing arguments, Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael and Assistant Public Defender Carl Creeden talked about the "different world" where Rodriguez lived.

It's a world where people scurry away after crimes are committed, too afraid to talk to police, they said.

Creeden called the witnesses "street people," and Michael said that the juvenile witnesses "shouldn't have been out that night."

"No matter what world it is, if that world is in this county, that law applies," Michael said. "It's the only world Trisiviah had an option to live in."

Michael told the jury that the state did not have to show exactly what happened on East Franklin Street the night Rodriguez died. The state only has to prove that crimes were committed, and McDaniels was one of the people who committed them, Michael said.

Edwin pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain and agreed to testify in McDaniels' trial.

"I had to cut the deal with him (Edwin) to get him here," Michael told the jury.

Creeden called Edwin's deal a "90 percent off deal for Mr. Edwin" and "the bargain of the century."

"This case falls or rises based on whether you believe Mr. Edwin," Creeden said. "Without Raheen Edwin, there isn't enough to get anyone."

Creeden tried to cast doubt in the jury's mind about the reliability of the witnesses, especially Edwin. He noted that one of the witnesses described McDaniels as having tattoos, but "Mr. McDaniels has no such tattoos," Creeden said.

He also said that McDaniels cooperated with police, while Edwin attempted to flee Hagerstown Police during a Sept. 7, 2006 vehicle pursuit.

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