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Judge consolidates cases of man accused of killing former girlfriend, Smithsburg police officer

Pryor's jury trial scheduled to begin Aug. 4

Pryor's jury trial scheduled to begin Aug. 4

May 21, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A man accused of killing the mother of his children and Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson in December 2007 was wheeled into a Washington County Circuit courtroom Tuesday afternoon for a hearing on the status of his case.

Douglas Pryor, 29, sat in a wheelchair during the hearing. Later, as he was wheeled out of the courtroom, he briefly motioned to, and spoke with, family members.

Pryor was shot on the night of Dec. 19, 2007, during a shootout with police officers and used a wheelchair for court appearances.

Extra security was on hand for Pryor's Tuesday hearing, which addressed a prosecution motion filed in February requesting that the three cases against Pryor related to the Dec. 19 events be consolidated for trial.

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The defense did not oppose the motion to consolidate, and Washington County Circuit Judge Frederick C. Wright III ordered that the cases be consolidated.

Police found Alison Munson, 31, dead in her home Dec. 19 about 9:30 p.m. Police previously said they received information that Pryor had harmed Munson, and that he possibly was headed to his home in the Smithsburg area.

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 officer on duty, responded to the request and was waiting for backup in a driveway off Welty Church Road when he was confronted by Pryor and shot

Pryor faces first-degree murder charges in the deaths of Munson and Nicholson. Prosecutors have filed a notice of intention to seek the death penalty if Pryor is convicted of Nicholson's death.

A grand jury in February handed up three separate indictments against Pryor. One charges him with Munson's death, and he is charged in a separate indictment with Nicholson's death.

The third indictment includes 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.

All of the cases arose from a "continuing course of conduct" and arose out of the same incident, prosecutors wrote in the February motion to consolidate.

Deputy State's Attorneys Joseph Michael and Steven Kessell and Assistant State's Attorney Viki Pauler represented the state Tuesday. State's Attorney Charles Strong and Washington County Sheriff Douglas Mullendore also were present for the hearing, as were members of both victims' families and several sheriff's department investigators.

Katy C. O'Donnell, division chief of the Office of the Public Defender's Capital Defense Division, and Assistant Public Defender Brian Hutchison represent Pryor.

Wright set a July 7 date for and additional pretrial motions hearing. A jury trial is scheduled for Aug. 4.

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