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Man charged in Hagerstown slaying fighting extradition from United Kingdom

September 23, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

A man accused of murder in Hagerstown in 2006 has asked a European human-rights court to prevent his extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States.

Joshua Edwards, 21, has been in custody in the United Kingdom since January 2007, fighting extradition to Maryland, according to a European Court of Human Rights statement of charges.

Authorities in Washington County have accused Edwards of fatally shooting Jackson Agustin Rodriguez in a Washington Gardens apartment.

In July, another man - Olusegun Hakeem Ogundipe of New York City - was sentenced to two concurrent life sentences for his part in Rodriguez's death and in the shooting of Tony Perry, who lost an eye but survived.

Authorities have said Edwards shot Rodriguez and Perry on July 23, 2006, but Ogundipe was there and helped Edwards.

During Ogundipe's trial in May, witness Steven Ramel Broadhead testified that he, Rodriguez and Perry took $10,000 worth of cocaine from New York to sell in the Hagerstown area on the day of the shooting.

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Joseph Michael, Washington County's deputy state's attorney, would not comment on how Edwards ended up in England or other aspects of the case.

A 2006 warrant lists a Brooklyn, N.Y., address for Edwards.

The European Court of Human Rights, based in Strasbourg, France, hears cases in which rights and freedoms might be at risk and in which the petitioner has exhausted legal options in the country where he is.

In an e-mail, Ruth Baillie of the court's press office wrote that it might take a year or two for a decision in Edwards' case.

The court's statement of charges says a district judge in Westminster, England, ruled on April 16, 2007, in favor of the U.S. embassy's request that Edwards be extradited.

One question was whether England, which does not have a death penalty, would be sending Edwards to Maryland for possible execution.

However, the prosecution in Washington County has stated that Edwards would not face a death sentence.

Edwards appealed to a higher court in England, arguing that life imprisonment without the possibility of parole "amounted to inhuman or degrading treatment."

The appellate court dismissed Edwards' appeal on July 27, 2007.

Edwards, who was being held in the Belmarsh prison in London, was indicted by a grand jury in Washington County on Oct. 24, 2006, the statement of facts says.

Michael said the indictment against Edwards is sealed.

However, the statement of facts lists 11 counts in the indictment, including first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder, as well as counts of assault and using a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence.

One question at issue in Edwards' appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, according to the statement of facts, is whether a trial court could impose a death penalty if the prosecution didn't request it. That can't happen, according to the prosecution.

Two other questions are about the likelihood of a sentence of life without parole and whether prison sentences would be imposed consecutively or concurrently.

Those decisions, the prosecution said, are up to the judge.

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