A man charged with attempted murder after pointing a gun at his estranged wife and her then-boyfriend was found guilty on two counts but not guilty of the most severe charges, including attempted murder.
Thomas Kermit Ray Jr., 42, was found guilty on two charges of reckless endangerment, for which he could face up to a maximum of 5 years in prison or a $5,000 fine for each.
The jurors -- five women and seven men -- agreed to the charges one-by-one after the verdict was read.
Ray, of the 5700 block of Mineral Hill Road in Sykesville, was charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder, two counts of attempted second-degree murder, two counts of first-degree assault, two counts of second-degree assault, two counts of the use of a handgun in a felony and two counts of reckless endangerment.
Ray sent many threatening text messages, emails and voicemails to his wife in a two-day period after he discovered she was having an affair. His wife, Diana Fitek, and her then-boyfriend Derrick Blackstone, went to her home Jan. 21 to gather her belongings and found Ray there. According to testimony, Ray pointed a loaded gun in their direction and fought Blackstone, after Blackstone refused to leave his house. The gun went off during the fight, but went into the wall.
In his closing arguments, defense attorney Thomas Hickman said the lead investigator, Trooper Amanda Voggenreiter, of the Maryland State Police, was too aggressive in charging Ray. Voggenreiter filed the above listed charges prior to interviewing Ray.
"They're stuck with trying to prove their case and they can't prove their case," he said in the closing arguments.
In an interview after the jury's decision was reached, Hickman said the defense was very pleased by the turn of events.
When he first heard of the case, he said, Hickman thought Ray could be charged with reckless endangerment at the most, but the state charged Ray too heavily.
"I thought the jury was very fair," he said.
To prove reckless endangerment, the jury had to find that Ray engaged in conduct that created a substantial risk of death or serious physical injury to another person. They had to find that he did act recklessly and consciously disregarded that risk, and that a reasonable person would not have engaged in that conduct.
In the jury instructions, the presiding judge, the honorable judge Michael M. Galloway, gave instructions for the jury to decide if Ray acted in self-defense. This included determining whether or not Ray was the aggressor and finding that Ray did not raise the fight, that he believed he was in immediate danger, that he used no more force than necessary and that he did not use deadly force.
Ray testified that he was afraid of Blackstone and tried to remove him from his home by pointing a loaded gun at him and leading him out. Blackstone then charged at Ray and the two fought, according to witness testimony. Blackstone eventually gained control of the gun and hit Ray several times with it, as well as kicking him.
Ray was flown to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center and received both staples and stitches for his injuries.
In his closing arguments, Hickman said Ray's actions were justified.
"In this case, when you apply the law, what he did was justified. What he did was reasonable," Hickman said.
Galloway said he felt the case was very well tried, he said. Sentencing will likely be in March, though no formal date was set.