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Trial delayed for Hagerstown teen facing charges in toddler's shooting

Judge asked to place Marcus D. Longus' case on inactive docket so the state could recall it for trial later

April 05, 2011|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com

Confusion over witnesses with the same name and assignment of the case to a judge who had previously recused himself from it resulted in a delay Tuesday in the trial of a Hagerstown teenager facing charges in the 2010 accidental shooting of his brother.

Marcus D. Longus, 17, of 12842 Little Elliott Drive, was scheduled for trial in Washington County Circuit Court on charges of obstruction, false statements, having a firearm accessible to a minor and other firearms violations in a Sept. 27 incident in which Mario Longus, then 2, shot himself with a stolen handgun, according to the charging documents filed by Hagerstown police.

The case was assigned to Judge W. Kennedy Boone III, but Boone recused himself, because he handled a Child In Need of Assistance case involving Mario Longus and his parents in January.

The case was then moved to another courtroom where Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Michael told Judge John H. McDowell that the state needed to summon additional witnesses.

The state had subpoenaed retired Hagerstown Police Department Lt. Mike King, who investigated the case, but not another witness named Mike King, Michael said. The other King was in the apartment at the time of the shooting, the charging documents said.

"I called Mike King, and he's sitting right there," Assistant Public Defender Loren Villa said, pointing to a man in the courtroom. King would testify Marcus Longus had nothing to do with the handgun, she said.

The oversight, Michael said, "is entirely on the state's shoulders." The lead prosecutor in the Longus case was tied up with another trial Tuesday, he said.

Michael, who said the 180-day time limit to try the case runs out on April 16, asked McDowell to place it on the inactive docket so the state could recall it for trial later.

But that was "an attempt to circumvent" the rule, Villa argued.

Michael also asked McDowell to grant a continuance, noting the serious nature of the case involving a firearm and injury to a child.

"It took a long time to get the actual truth out,"  because witnesses tried to hide facts from the police, Michael said.

Villa told McDowell she doubted the defense would be granted a continuance under similar circumstances.

"This is a highly complicated case," said McDowell, who found good cause to continue the case until April 21.

On the morning of Sept. 27, Mario Longus was in a room with Marcus Longus, sister Kendra Longus, Fantaisa Rivera and King when he shot himself with a pistol he found under a bed, the charging documents said.

Rivera, 17, was charged with hiding the gun in a playground, but her case was later transferred to juvenile court. The gun was reported stolen from a federal law enforcement officer prior to the shooting.

A judge ruled in March that statements Marcus Longus made to police were not admissible, in part, because he was not read his Miranda rights.

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