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Trial continued for man charged with soliciting murder

July 12, 2010|By DAN DEARTH

A Hagerstown man who is charged with solicitation of murder was granted a continuance of his trial Monday in Washington County Circuit Court.

Defense attorney Bernard W. Semler II told the court that his client, Louis Geraldo Gonzalez, 28, of 82 W. Washington St., might enter a plea when the case returns to court Aug. 2.

"We're anticipating this will be a plea," Semler said. "My goal is to see if I can confirm the plea this week."

Gonzalez was not in court Monday. He was being held in the North Branch Correctional Institution in Cumberland, Md., after being sentenced earlier this year to serve 20 years in prison for his role in a January 2009 robbery and shooting in Smithsburg.

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Gonzalez originally faced 15 charges in that case, but the state dismissed all but one count of armed robbery in exchange for his testimony against another defendant in the crime, Anthony Caldwell, 26, of 27 E. Lee St., Hagerstown. The plea agreement could have resulted in as little as a five-year prison term for Gonzalez.

He testified in Caldwell's first trial, which ended in a mistrial. He refused to testify at Caldwell's second trial and, as a result, the prosecution withdrew the plea offer and he was sentenced to 20 years.

In the current case, Gonzalez faces charges of soliciting first-degree murder and witness intimidation. He is accused of trying to entice someone to kill Bruce Jones, who was shot during the robbery attempt in Smithsburg.

According to court records, a confidential informant told police in August 2009 that while housed at the Washington County Detention Center, Gonzalez was looking for someone to kill Jones, co-defendant Caldwell and the investigating officer in his criminal case.

The informant allegedly told investigators, "Gonzalez believed that if there was no one to testify in his upcoming criminal case that the case would be dropped and he would be released from custody," court records allege.

Gonzalez also is alleged to have offered another inmate, believed to be a member of the "DMI" gang, a kilo of raw heroin and $22,000 in exchange for Jones' murder, according to court records.

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