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Man indicted in slaying of inmate convicted in fatal Hancock fire

May 18, 2010
  • Clarence Franklin Meyers
Submitted photo,

CUMBERLAND, Md. -- A grand jury has indicted an inmate at the North Branch Correctional Institution in Allegany County, Md., on a charge of first-degree murder in the Dec. 30, 2009, death of his cellmate, Clarence Meyers, the office of Allegany County State's Attorney Michael O. Twigg said Tuesday.

The Allegany County grand jury handed up the indictment of Christopher Robert White, 35, on Tuesday, the state's attorney's office said in an e-mail. He is charged in the indictment with the murder of Meyers, 39, who was found dead in his cell at the prison near Cumberland, Md., on Dec. 30, according to the Allegany County State's Attorney's Office.

An autopsy determined that Meyers had been strangled, state police said earlier this year. He was serving two life sentences for setting a fire that claimed the lives of two young sisters.

White was serving 23 years for convictions in Wicomico County on charges of kidnapping, larceny, assault and weapons charges, said Mark Vernarelli, the director of Public Information for the Maryland Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.

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Vernarelli confirmed that White and Meyers were cellmates.

Maryland State Police investigate prison homicides, according to Vernarelli, but prison staff and his department's Internal Investigative Unit detectives "immediately treated this as a homicide from the time Mr. Meyers was found."

"We have not been contacted yet" about representing White, said Jim Malone, the acting district public defender in Allegany County. "I can't say anything until I've seen a charging document."

Meyers pleaded guilty on Aug. 20, 2009, in Washington County Circuit Court to two counts of felony murder in the deaths of Nicole Gross, 15, and Mary Gross, 12. He admitted setting the Feb. 16, 2009, fire that killed the sisters in the Hancock home he shared with them and their mother, according to court records.

White has a criminal record dating back to 1992, according to a search of Maryland court records online. The most serious were in Wicomico County in 1994 where he was charged with robbery, robbery at a residence with a deadly weapon, assault with intent to rob, burglary, armed carjacking, carjacking, kidnapping a minor, theft, use of a deadly weapon with intent to injure, assault, battery and false imprisonment.

The case was transferred to Wicomico County Circuit Court in 1995. White pleaded guilty to kidnapping and was sentenced to 15 years in state prison in that case, according to Wicomico County Circuit Court records.

White was convicted in 2006 on a deadly weapons charge in Somerset County and sentenced to 90 days in jail, according to circuit court records. White was an inmate at Eastern Correctional Institution when the charge was filed, according to court records.

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