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Co-conspirator compelled to testify in New Windsor murder trial

Cpl. Jon Light discusses the New Windsor murder investigation. (Emily Chappell and Heather Mongillio / Carroll County Times)

State prosecutors will be allowed to compel the testimony of the alleged accomplice of a man charged with the murder of a New Windsor woman last summer, a judge ruled Monday.

Robert Theodore Bosley, 39, is scheduled to stand trial beginning Tuesday, April 19, on murder and related charges in the August death of Kandi Gerber.

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On Monday, Carroll County Circuit Court Judge Barry Hughes signed the state's motion, filed last month, to compel alleged co-conspirator Bret Michael Wheeler, 25, to testify during Bosley's trial over the objections of Wheeler's attorneys. Hughes will be presiding over Bosley's jury trial when it begins Tuesday.

Deputy State's Attorney Ned Coyne, who is representing the state along with Circuit Court Chief attorney Allan Culver and Senior Assistant State's Attorney Brenda Harkavy, argued that the court should allow the motion based on Maryland statute 9-123, which states that if an individual, in this case Wheeler, is called to testify or provide information in a criminal trial or grand jury proceeding, the court shall issue "an order requiring the individual to give testimony or provide other information which the individual has refused to give or provide on the basis of the individual's privilege against self–incrimination."

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Robert Theodore Bosley, 39, formerly of the 2000 block of Dennings Road, is charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, first-degree assault and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault in the August death of Gerber.

Under the statute, a prosecutor can request to compel a person to testify if the testimony or information is necessary to the public's interest and if the person has or would likely refuse to testify in order to not self-incriminate.

Wheeler's attorney Eric Offutt argued the state's motion be denied, citing concerns with the fact that prosecutors have the power to compel testimony while Wheeler does not have the same ability.

Offutt told the court that the immunization that is offered as part of statute was sufficient to protect Wheeler against self-incrimination, but argued that the compel motion "distorted" the judicial fact-finding process.

Hughes summarized Offutt's argument that Wheeler didn't have the same ability to compel Bosley to testify in his trial as an argument of "it's not fair."

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"On one level, at a nonlegal level, I understand," Hughes said.

Hughes asked if the judge in any of the cases Offutt had cited in his argument had ruled in favor of the defense, to which Offutt said previous judges had not.

Hughes said the legislature understood the ability to compel that the state has under the statute when they allowed the section to go into the code. Previous courts have weighed due process concerns with the compel motion, which Offutt asked Hughes to consider, but they have also chosen to not interfere, Hughes said.

"It's a heavy burden for any defendant that makes that argument," Hughes said.

Coyne told Hughes that Wheeler will likely be called to testify in the latter portions of Bosley's trial, which is scheduled to last approximately two weeks.

The Carroll County Sheriff's Office, which investigated Gerber's homicide, alleged that Bosley, who was incarcerated but out on work release at the time of the killing, and Wheeler lured Gerber to the house all three shared in the 2000 block of Dennings Road in New Windsor. Wheeler then escorted three occupants at the house to a convenience store, while Bosley met with Gerber, according to police. During the confrontation, Bosley allegedly used a razor to slit Gerber's throat.

Wheeler and Bosley then drove to the area of Muller and Old Washington roads where they left Gerber's body, police said, then drove to a house in the 700 block of S. Springdale Road where they were later detained by two deputies.

Bosley is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree assault in Gerber's death. Wheeler is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree assault and accessory after first-degree murder, according to electronic court records.

Wheeler; Bosley; Bosley's attorney, Joseph Murtha; and Offutt's co-counsel, Matthew Williamson, were also present in the courtroom during the motions hearing.

Bosley's trial begins 9:30 a.m. Tuesday with jury selection.

410-857-7898



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