Carroll's longest murder trial has lasting impact

Shelley, Bryan and Tony Myers take a photo with their father, Robert Lee "Bobby" Myers, in July 2013 at the infirmary at the Jessup Correctional Institution.
Shelley, Bryan and Tony Myers take a photo with their father, Robert Lee "Bobby" Myers, in July 2013 at the infirmary at the Jessup Correctional Institution. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)

More than 30 years later, former Maryland State Police detective Jim Leete is still trying to forget about it.
"I don't want to remember this case the rest of my life," Leete said. "I want to put it behind me."
Yet Leete still can't shake the gripping details. It was 12:30 p.m., Aug. 29, 1979, when 43-year-old Mary Ruth Myers was shot nine times in her bedroom inside her Silver Run home on Turkeyfoot Road.
Leete and another trooper were assigned the case, which developed into an investigation that lasted more than 18 months.
The investigation led to evidence that showed 38-year-old Robert Lee "Bobby" Myers, a local businessman, paid hitman Daniel Lee Chadderton $10,000 to kill his wife.
Evidence also showed that Myers' mistress connected him with the gunman. It was only days after the murder that the mistress, Tina Gillen, moved into the Myers home with her children. The two got married less than a month later.
Throughout the process, Leete almost became more than just the investigator. He nearly became a victim.
A witness came forward, telling Leete that Myers had paid him $900 while in jail to have Leete killed. The reliability of the witness was in question, though Leete said he tracked a $900 transfer from Myers to the man through their jail accounts.
Leete said he also caught Chadderton following him while driving, and phone records showed calls were being made from pay phones close to his home between Chadderton and Myers.
"So I knew they were tracking me just like I tracked them," Leete said.
The case took more than 18 months to solve, but got the break it needed through phone records.
Phone calls showed connections between Myers and Chadderton around the time of the murder. Investigators just had to prove it, and they were able to when Tina turned state's evidence and agreed to testify against Myers.
"It took a major piece of my life," Leete said. "[It was] one of the first times I slept with a gun next to my bed."
His children, who attended local schools, were the recipients of adverse remarks regarding Leete's investigation of Myers, Leete remembers.
"There was a time when everybody in this county believed Bob Myers was innocent and that I'm just harassing him," Leete said.
The stress of the investigation took its toll on Leete, and he believes it played a role in his eventual divorce.
"How can I explain to my wife why I'm sleeping with a gun next to my bed?" Leete said.
To Leete, the complex case can be explained fairly easily.
Chadderton shot the gun. Tina put the gun in Chadderton's hand. Bobby Myers aimed the gun.
Both Chadderton and Myers were given life sentences. Tina was offered immunity when she agreed to testify as a state's witness.
"Did she pull the trigger? No. Did she aim the gun? No. Did she make it possible? Yes," Leete said.

Longest trial in


Carroll County history
The case attracted many national media outlets. There were newspapers in Canada that covered it, remembers former State's Attorney Tom Hickman.
"It was the longest trial in the history of Carroll County and the longest murder trial in the history of Maryland," Hickman said.
If he had the case to prosecute all over again, Hickman said he wouldn't do it any differently.
"I think we did what we had to do and got the most justice out of it we could," Hickman said.
A key moment in Myers' 72-day trial was the decision made by defense attorney Anton J.S. Keating to not have Myers testify.
"I couldn't have put Bobby on," Keating said.
The prosecution would've cut him to pieces, and the jury would've been back with a guilty verdict in an hour, Keating said.
Keating likes Myers and said the man he defended was a well-liked person. Myers was just an incredibly weak person plagued with a severe alcohol problem during that time, Keating said.
Like others deeply involved in the Myers case, Keating also went through a divorce shortly after the trial.
"You devote yourself like that for a long time before the trial, [and] then you're totally obsessed by the trial. It's not the kind of thing you can come home and say 'Hi honey, how's everything?' You would be inhuman if you could do that," Keating said.
"It's got to affect you some way. You can't play around with life and death without it having some effect on you."
The men standing on opposite sides of Myers' fate developed an admiration and respect for each other.
Keating remembers a moment during the trial exchanging pleasantries with Leete while in the restroom.
Keating told the investigator that if he was ever killed, he wanted Leete to investigate the crime; and Leete told the defense attorney that if he was ever accused of a crime, he wanted Keating to defend him.
Hickman and Keating still remain in contact and discuss the Myers case from time to time.
"So I respected those guys," Keating said. "Even though we were in the ring together and I'm fighting them tooth and nail."