Prosecutors called five witnesses Wednesday and are scheduled to call more on Thursday as they lay the foundation for their case against a Baltimore County man accused of murdering a 23-year-old New York man in Gamber.
Lester Aaron Snyder, 26, of Windsor Mill, is charged with first- and second-degree murder, manslaughter and other related charges, according to electronic court records.
Carroll County State's Attorney Brian DeLeonardo said Tuesday in an opening statement to the jury that Snyder fatally shot Luis Javier Pol, of the Bronx, seven times on the night of Oct. 4, 2014, after dropping him off on the side of the road near the intersection of East Nicodemus Road and Md. 32.
Prosecutors said the shooting was motivated by a drug dealing territory dispute, after Snyder — along with Snyder's girlfriend at the time, Meghan Renee Goforth, 26, of New Windsor — had planned to rob Pol.
Snyder and Goforth fled the scene shortly after Pol was shot, DeLeonardo said Tuesday. Soon after, they were stopped by Carroll County Sheriff's Office Deputy Robert Cromwell, who was searching for a vehicle that matched the description of theirs, according to Cromwell, who testified Tuesday.
Cromwell said another police officer noticed blood on Snyder's pant leg and hand that police photographed and displayed as evidence. Snyder told him it was from a sore on his mouth, an explanation Cromwell thought was plausible. They were released by Cromwell, who testified Tuesday that they were not acting suspicious and he did not have enough evidence to hold them.
Goforth was arrested by police the morning after the shooting on Oct. 5, just east of Rolling Road on Windsor Mill Road, after she had driven her vehicle to a carwash to get rid of any evidence, prosecutors claimed.
The Baltimore County Police Woodlawn Precinct's Lt. Greg Mead, who arrested Goforth and was the third witness called Wednesday, said he noticed the car had recently been washed. "It's pretty obvious the car had been wiped," Mead said, adding, "It was wet with soap suds all over it."
Goforth pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery and accessory after the fact on April 27 in connection with Pol's death. She will be sentenced once Snyder's case concludes.
Peggy Yox, the second witness called by prosecutors Wednesday, resides in a house in the 3100 block of Sykesville Road located near the crime scene. She testified that Pol, who had been staying with her, was on his way to her house before he was fatally shot. Yox testified that she has struggled with substance abuse for about 30 years and purchased drugs from both Pol and Snyder.
Pol texted Yox at 10:41 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4, saying that he was on his way to her house, before she heard a round of gunshots go off while watching TV, Yox said. She heard what she thought to be two voices outside right after the gunshots went off but could not identify the gender of those who were speaking, Yox said.
Five people at the residence walked outside to the area where Pol was shot, Yox said.
On Tuesday, witness Jacob Kucharski, who placed a 911 call to police after seeing two people — Snyder and Goforth, prosecutors say — standing near Pol's body the night of Oct. 4, testified that Pol's pants were pulled down unusually low, exposing his boxers. Kucharski said he found it strange that a middle-aged white woman who walked over from the house in the 3100 block of Sykesville Road had put her hands in Pol's pants underneath his boxers for about three seconds.
Yox testified on Wednesday that Pol kept drugs down his boxers in his groin area, something that drug dealers often do. Yox said she did not observe anyone rifling through his pants or boxers, but someone did lift his head up from underneath the guardrail where he was lying, Yox said.
Defense attorney Samuel Nalli attempted to discredit Yox, who has a criminal record and said she is currently taking methadone.
Jurors heard testimony from three other witnesses: Dale Becker, a volunteer firefighter paramedic with the Gamber Volunteer Fire Department; Detective Sgt. Padraic Lacy, assistant commander of the Maryland State Police Westminster Barrack; and Joel Johnson, a state police crime scene technician.
The court is scheduled to reconvene 10 a.m. Thursday under orders from Judge Michael M. Galloway, when the prosecution will continue to call witnesses.
DeLeonardo, part of the prosecution along with Carroll County Circuit Court Chief Allan Culver, declined to comment on the day's proceedings.
Nalli said testimony from witnesses so far has not shown that Snyder was responsible for the shooting.
"They are just laying the foundation for their case, so it doesn't hurt much," Nalli said. "Goforth is the one we are worrying about."