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Witnesses recount scene of slaying

May 02, 2007|by ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN - Marshall Adams and the man he is accused of stabbing to death in the early-morning hours of April 13, 2006, were in the Crips gang and planned to do drugs together that day, according to a statement Adams made to police.

Hagerstown Police Detective Jason Ackerman testified about that statement Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court during the first day of Adams' trial on charges of first-degree murder, second-degree murder and manslaughter in Morris' death.

Police found the body of Leo Anthony Morris, 31, facedown in front of 315 Bethune Ave. when they responded to an emergency call.

Carrol Hardy and Wanda Vernon, both of Bethune Avenue, testified Tuesday that they called police the morning of April 13, 2006, after they heard a commotion outside of their homes.

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Bethune Avenue runs parallel to and between North Potomac and Jonathan streets.

Hardy was awakened by something and peeked out her window to see what it was, she said.

"It looked like somebody was fighting," she testified.

"Someone said, 'Please don't kill me' or 'Are you gonna kill me?'" Hardy testified.

She turned on her porch light and saw someone lying there, so she called police, Hardy testified.

She also called her neighbor, Vernon.

Vernon was lying in bed when she heard someone hollering, "Don't kill me man, don't kill me," she testified.

She looked through her window and saw a man standing on the steps right in front of her, Vernon testified. She described the person she saw in front of her house as a light-skinned black man with thin hair and wearing a light blue, short sleeve T-shirt.

Under questioning by Assistant Public Defender Jerome J. Joyce, Vernon said the man was leaning over, looking toward Hardy's house. That's when Hardy called her and told her there was a man in front of Hardy's house bleeding, Vernon testified.

'I presumed he was dead'

Vernon's boyfriend, Blaine Mossburg, also heard voices yelling early that morning, he testified Tuesday.

Mossburg went outside to see what was going on and saw a man lying facedown, he testified. Mossburg, a trained emergency medical technician, checked for a pulse and the man didn't have one, Mossburg testified.

"With the amount of blood, I presumed he was dead," Mossburg testified.

Yohance Jones was searching for his cat on the back porch of his Potomac Street residence when he heard someone scream out, 'You're gonna kill me,' he testified Tuesday.

He saw someone wearing a white T-shirt and jeans, and carrying what might have been a knife, run down the street, he testified. The person's clothes were dry, even though it was raining, Jones testified.

Hagerstown Police Sgt. Paul Kifer played video surveillance tapes of the Jonathan Street area for the jury. The video showed men moving around on streets slick with rain during the early hours of April 13, 2006.

Ackerman was the last witness to take the stand Tuesday. He testified about taking notes during Adams' interview with police on May 17, 2006.

"He looked like he had a weight on his shoulders," Ackerman testified.

When asked about what happened that April night, Adams told Ackerman and Detective Shane Blankenship, "'Had knife ... fell on ground ... left like blackness ... remember seeing red on ground .... thought oh wow,'" Ackerman testified.

More witnesses for the state are scheduled to take the stand today before the defense presents its case.

During opening statements Tuesday, Deputy District Public Defender Mary Riley told the jury that Adams, 27, blacked out during a fight with Morris and suggested that Adams acted in self-defense.

She said Morris was killed, but "whether he was murdered is your decision, not what the prosecutor tells you."

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