Pryor withdraws petition for new murder trial

Motion to withdraw petition did not cite reason why man convicted of killing ex-girlfriend, Smithsburg police officer did not want to proceed with hearing

March 02, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • Pryor

A Smithsburg man who is serving life sentences for the 2007 murders of his former girlfriend and a Smithsburg police officer has withdrawn his petition for a new trial.

Douglas W. Pryor, 32, was scheduled to be in Washington County Circuit Court on April 6 for a hearing based on a Uniform Post Conviction Act petition he filed in June 2010. However, Judge John H. McDowell signed an order on Feb. 23 granting Pryor's motion to withdraw his petition for post-conviction relief.

The motion to withdraw the petition did not cite a reason why Pryor did not want to proceed with the hearing.

In the 2010 petition for post-conviction relief, Pryor cited an alleged ineffective assistance of counsel as a reason that relief should be granted.

Pryor pleaded guilty May 1, 2009, to two counts of first-degree murder in the Dec. 19, 2007, deaths of Alison Munson and Smithsburg Police Officer Christopher Shane Nicholson.

Pryor also pleaded guilty to four counts of attempted first-degree murder for shooting at four police officers who were trying to take him into custody the night Munson and Nicholson died. Those counts each carry a life sentence, to be served consecutively.

As part of the plea agreement, Pryor waived many of his post-conviction rights, including the right to seek modification of the sentence, withdrawal of his plea or review of his sentence by a three-judge panel, Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael said Wednesday.

The state was seeking the death sentence before Pryor agreed to enter a plea.

"The state will raise that waiver every time" Pryor files a post-conviction motion or other appeal, Michael said.

"The state is confident it will prevail in any post-conviction proceedings if they are filed," Michael said.

Munson, 31, who was the mother of two of Pryor's children, was stabbed more than 20 times, her body wrapped in a comforter and placed inside a closet of her Halfway home.

As authorities sought Pryor, Nicholson, 25, was waiting for backup near Pryor's home when he was confronted by Pryor and shot, according to court records.

Pryor's case was transferred to Montgomery County, Md., after the defense was granted a change of venue.

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