Judge denies motion to dismiss charges against Toms

August 30, 2010|By DON AINES
  • Gregory Lehman Toms

HAGERSTOWN --Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley on Monday denied a motion to dismiss several charges against a local bail bondsman on Second Amendment grounds, but a suppression hearing on the validity of the search warrant will resume in about two weeks.

Gregory Lehman Toms, 54, of 19932 Lemuel Lane, was seeking dismissal of charges of possession of an incendiary device, possession of more than five pounds of black powder and having a handgun in a vehicle. His attorney, Gregory C. Bannon, stated in the motion that Toms had the constitutional right under the Second Amendment to possess those items.

Toms also is charged with possession of a stolen handgun, possession of marijuana, theft of less than $1,000 and two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Washington County Sheriff's Detective Gregory Alton testified during the hearing that investigators found dummy grenades, military smoke grenades, military flares and several cans of black powder during a June search of Toms' property. Alton testified the state Fire Marshal's Office was called in when the explosive materials were found during a search for stolen weapons.


While the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the rights of individuals to own handguns in two recent cases, those did not address the issues of Maryland state laws regarding having handguns in vehicles, or limiting the amount of black powder a person may own without a license, Beachley said.

Bannon also was seeking to suppress some items seized during the search, including the dummy and smoke grenades, flares and black powder, along with marijuana, marijuana seeds, an expired gun permit, books, pipes and pipe caps.

"They clearly seized items beyond the scope of the search warrant," Bannon told Beachley.

Assistant State's Attorney Michele Hansen noted that items such as the marijuana would not be beyond the scope of the warrant if uncovered legitimately as a result of the search for stolen weapons. Alton testified the marijuana was found in a gun safe and the seeds were on a shelf in plain view.

The validity of the search warrant was questioned by Bannon, including the reliability of two men who allegedly gave Toms stolen firearms, information that was used to establish probable cause for the warrant. Bannon said the men, involved in burglaries in Maryland, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, were confessed felons and a third source was anonymous.

"None of the weapons they claimed to have sold were in Mr. Toms' possession," Bannon said.

Bannon said there was no connection to Toms' property in the application for the warrant. There also was an issue of "staleness" with the application because it listed evidence being sought from burglaries in 2008 and 2009, Bannon said.

Toms' property would be the likely place to search for the stolen weapons and the investigation into the stolen weapons took several months, beginning in late 2009, Hansen said.

Beachley gave Hansen and Bannon 15 days to prepare arguments on the suppression issues. The judge said Toms' trial scheduled for September will have to be rescheduled.

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