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Two more indictments against Pryor unsealed

February 14, 2008

HAGERSTOWN

By ERIN JULIUS

erinj@herald-mail.com

Two indictments against Douglas W. Pryor that were unsealed Thursday charge him in connection with a shootout with law enforcement officers before he was taken into custody in December 2007.

Pryor was wounded in an exchange of gunfire with police that followed the fatal shooting of Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Nicholson.

In addition, a charge against Pryor in connection with the death of Alison L. Munson, the mother of his children, has been upgraded to first-degree murder.

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Pryor was charged in December with a lesser charge of second-degree murder in the death of Munson, 31, of Halfway. Prosecutors wanted the grand jury to consider whether a first-degree murder charge was appropriate, Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell said Tuesday.

The indictments handed up by a Washington County grand jury were filed Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court.

Pryor was being held Thursday by the Division of Correction, at the request of Washington County, a prisons spokeswoman said.

The Washington County Sheriff's Department served Pryor with a notice that the state intends to seek a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole in the cases related to Nicholson and Munson, deputies said in a news release.

Prosecutors later could file their intention to seek the death penalty.

Police got a call at about 9:30 p.m. on Dec. 19, 2007, that Pryor had harmed Munson at her Halfway residence and was possibly headed to the Smithsburg area, where he lived.

When deputies arrived at the Halfway apartment, they found Munson dead.

Her body was found in a closet of her Halfway apartment, police said. A blanket and a trash can covered her body and a handwritten note, the contents of which Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore has declined to release, was left on top of her body.

Deputies en route to the area of Pryor's house on Welty Church Road asked the Smithsburg Police Department for assistance.

Nicholson, the only Smithsburg Police officer on duty, was waiting for backup in a driveway off Welty Church Road when he was confronted by Pryor and shot, Mullendore said.

When deputies arrived, they found Nicholson lying near his police cruiser in the middle of a field off of Welty Church Road, Mullendore said.

The indictment also charges Pryor with second-degree murder in connection with Munson's death.

Through the indictment, Pryor also faces charges of first- and second-degree assault against Munson, and a charge of violating a Nov. 9, 2007, court order to refrain from abusing or harassing Munson.

Pryor also faces four charges of attempted first-degree murder and other crimes for his involvement in a shootout with police who tried to take him into custody in the area of the historic Ringgold Meeting House in Ringgold, about a mile and a half from the fatal shooting site.

Pryor began shooting at police and was in and out of his truck as he exchanged fire with Special Response Team members who pursued him in an armored vehicle, Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore has said.

Police used the armored vehicle to stop the truck, and Pryor was on foot when he was shot in the exchange of gunfire with the SRT and taken into custody.

Pryor was charged with the attempted first- and second- degree murder of Cpl. Dave Harper and Trooper 1st Class Kenneth L. Cain of the Maryland State Police, Lt. Mike King of the Hagerstown Police Department and Deputy Todd Crowder of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Pryor also was charged with the first- and second-degree assault, assault of a law enforcement officer and reckless endangerment of the four named officers.

He was charged with two additional counts of reckless endangerment against members of the Washington County Special Response Team and members of the Washington County Sheriff's Department and Maryland State Police.

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