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Hearings delayed for two Hagerstown men charged in April 20 shooting death

September 04, 2013|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
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Evidence-suppression hearings for two men charged in the April 20 shooting death of Steven Andrew O’Brien in his Randolph Avenue apartment were delayed Wednesday during appearances by the defendants in Washington County Circuit Court.

As one of the two men, Cory Antonio Usher, was escorted from the courtroom, a relative of O’Brien’s said “green mile,” a possible reference to the 1999 film “The Green Mile,” about death-row inmates and their prison guards.

Maryland no longer has the death penalty, but court records show that the prosecution has filed notice of its intent to seek a sentence of life without the possibility of parole if Usher is convicted of first-degree murder.

In a suppression hearing, a judge hears challenges to statements, search and seizures or other evidence to determine whether they will be admissible at trial.

Usher, 36, of West Antietam Street and Eduardo Emilio Gonzalez, 26, of Broadway are each charged with first-degree and second-degree murder, armed robbery, criminal conspiracy and other offenses in the death of O’Brien, who was killed during the course of a robbery that netted marijuana worth about $150, Hagerstown police have said.

Gonzalez’s brother, 16-year-old Jenaro Torres, had been charged as an adult in the killing, but his case was transferred to juvenile court, where he admitted to armed robbery. He is scheduled to be in juvenile court on Sept. 11 to find out his disposition.

The postponement of Usher’s suppression hearing was granted by Washington County Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley, in part to allow a determination to be made of whether the state Public Defender’s Office has a conflict of interest in the case.

An assistant public defender had filed motions on behalf of Torres early in the case, although Usher was represented Wednesday by a different attorney, Deputy District Public Defender Eric Reed.

No new date for a suppression hearing was set, but Usher’s three-day jury trial is still set to begin Dec. 10, court records said.

Gonzalez was represented by a private attorney, James J. Podlas, who said he had “just received mounds of additional discovery” from the prosecution that needed to be examined.

“This is a first-degree murder case, judge, and it has to be carefully prepared,” Podlas said.

Gonzalez’s trial was scheduled to begin Oct. 9, but Beachley set that as the new date for his suppression hearing. His trial has been delayed until January, but no specific date was set, Assistant State’s Attorney Gina Cirincion said after the hearing.

Usher, Gonzalez and Torres were accused of conspiring to rob O’Brien, who had sent out a text on April 20 saying that he had marijuana to sell, according to charging documents.

Police allege in the documents that Usher and Gonzalez went up to O’Brien’s apartment while Torres waited in a vehicle outside, and Usher shot O’Brien in the head during the robbery.

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