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Pryor says on tape he deserves death penalty

March 27, 2009|By ERIN JULIUS

ROCKVILLE, Md. -- "Yes, sir."

That's how Douglas Pryor responded Dec. 21, 2007, when an investigator asked him, "Do you think you deserve to die over what you did by killing two people."

"Yes, sir. It's not right," Pryor said again when asked if he deserves the death penalty.

Pryor does face the death penalty if convicted of first-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 19, 2007, shooting death of Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson.

Pryor also faces a first-degree murder charge in connection with the stabbing death of Alison Munson, the mother of Pryor's children.

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Munson was found dead in her home at Maple Leaf Court in Halfway Manor on Dec. 19, 2007 about 9:30 p.m.

After her body was found, Washington County Sheriff's Department deputies headed for Pryor's house on Welty Church Road near Smithsburg and the Smithsburg Police Department was asked for assistance.

Nicholson, the only Smithsburg police officer on duty, responded and was waiting for backup in a driveway off Welty Church Road when he was fatally shot.

A tape of the Dec. 21, 2007, interview was played Friday afternoon during a suppression hearing held prior to Pryor's trial, which is set to begin in May in Montgomery County Circuit Court. Because he faces the death penalty, Pryor had an automatic right in Maryland to ask that his trial be moved out of Washington County.

Five statements allegedly made by Pryor are at issue prior to the trial, including a nonverbal exchange Pryor had with investigators Dec. 20, 2007, while he was on a breathing tube at Washington County Hospital. He was wounded in a shootout with police shortly before he was taken into custody.

Also at issue are the audiotaped statement of Dec. 21, 2007, a statement Pryor made to a Division of Correction inmate while he was in a prison hospital, and a statement Pryor made to his cellmate at the Washington County Detention Center.

The final statement at issue was made by Pryor to a Washington County Sheriff's Department lieutenant several weeks before the deaths, when the officer was serving Pryor with a protective order filed by Munson.

Attorneys did not make arguments about the statements Friday. More testimony from investigators and arguments are expected next week.

Pryor cried and sounded hysterical during much of the taped interview with Washington County Sheriff's Department investigators Greg Alton and Kenny Barnhart. Throughout the tape, Pryor curses and uses a racial slur.

A copy of the transcript was provided to The Herald-Mail.

"I killed a cop?" Pryor said during the interview.

"Don't tell me that cause I ain't got nothing against y'all man," Pryor said later.

"It wasn't against you at all, man. You guys are to protect and serve, you know. Oh man, did it really happen," Pryor said at the conclusion of the interview before the investigators left his hospital room.

Investigators also asked Pryor about Munson.

"Doug, did you put her in the closet so the kids wouldn't see?" Alton asked.

"Yes, sir," Pryor said.

Upon further questioning, Pryor said that's why he also covered blood in the living room with a blanket, according to the transcript.

Earlier in the interview, Pryor had professed his love for Munson.

"I love her, I love her," he said while crying.

The evening she died, Munson had told Pryor "she didn't love me no more, and that she had to talk," according to the transcript.

He took his knife when he went to her house that night, but he didn't know where the knife ended up, Pryor told investigators during the interview.

Pryor appeared in court Friday, sitting next to his defense attorneys.

He wore a green jail jumpsuit, with his hair closely cropped and a short beard. He often leaned his head in his hands, and his left thumb had a tattoo on it. Pryor's mother also sat through much of Friday's hearing.

Alton testified Friday, and it was during his testimony the recorded interview was played.

Several Washington County Sheriff's Department correctional deputies also testified Friday, primarily about Pryor's time at the Washington County Detention Center.

His former cellmate also took the stand.

Michael Hull of Hagerstown shared a cell with Pryor for about a month.

The two had general conversations about the charges against Pryor, Hull testified. Hull then contacted investigators through his girlfriend, asking them to come see him because he had information, the former inmate testified.

Pryor was "sometimes angry, sometimes hurt" when he discussed the case, Hull testified.

"At one point in time, he was angry about how they kept putting the cop in the newspaper and Alison was only in there a few times," Hull testified.

Pryor is being held at the Montgomery County Detention Center, a deputy there said Friday night.

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