A Harford County jury found Radee Labeeb Prince guilty of three counts of first-degree murder and other charges Wednesday related to a 2017 workplace shooting at Advanced Granite Solutions in Edgewood.
The jury of nine women and three men took about three and a half hours Wednesday to reach the verdict. The case was turned over to the jury Tuesday afternoon, following closing arguments.
With Prince’s guilt decided in the shooting, the trial will move to its next stage: determining the 40-year-old’s criminal responsibility for the acts.
Prince pleaded not criminally responsible — Maryland’s version of the insanity defense — and the jury now will be asked to determine whether he was not in his right mind when he shot and killed three coworkers and injured two more.
In addition to the murder charges, Prince also was found guilty of two counts of attempted first-degree murder, one count of using a firearm in a crime of violence and one count of possessing a regulated firearm after being disqualified from owning one.
After the jury rendered its verdict, Judge Yolanda Curtin asked Prince if he wanted to have the next phase of the trial heard by the court or the jury. Prince said he would rather the jury determine whether he was criminally responsible for the shooting.
Criminal responsibility in Maryland is determined by a defendant’s ability to appreciate the criminality of their conduct or inability to conform to the law because of a mental disorder.
As the criminal responsibility phase of the trial began Wednesday afternoon, defense attorney Mary Pizzo reminded the jury that the burden of proof was now on the defense.
Critical to the criminal responsibility phase, she noted, is the standard of proof the defense must meet. Unlike the first phase of a trial, which required a finding of guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt,” jurors can find someone not criminally responsible by a preponderance of the evidence — a lower standard.
The jury, Pizzo said, needs to decide whether Prince was suffering from a mental disorder at the time of his offense.
“Even if you determine here that he intended to do what he did … that does not necessarily mean he is criminally responsible,” she said. “He planned to protect himself, but he was not in his right mind.”
Prince again took the stand Wednesday — answering questions from defense attorney John Janowich and trading barbs with assistant state’s attorney Tim Doory.
Questioned by Janowich, Prince said he feared for his life when one of his coworkers — not the first one he shot, though — made a threatening gesture after Prince called the shop’s crew together. He then said he left the shop and drove to Delaware to confront Rashan “Jason” Baul, a man he shot in Delaware and was convinced intended to harm him. In May 2018, Prince was convicted in Delaware of attempted manslaughter and sentenced to serve 40 years in prison for shooting Baul.
“Did you consider any of the long-term effects?” Janowich asked Prince of the Edgewood shooting.
“No, I did not,” Prince said. “I felt like it was kill or be killed at that moment.”
During Doory’s cross examination, he and Prince exchanged sharp words. Doory asked why Prince thought he was in danger before he shot the workers gathered around him. Prince said he simply feared for his life.
“How much chance did [Tudev] have to protect himself,” Doory asked.
“I do not know,” Prince replied.
“But we are still here talking about poor Radee who got beat up outside of a bar,” Doory continued.
Under questioning from Janowich, Prince said he called the other workers together to see if they could “coexist” before the shooting took place. Before that, he said, the other workers were bumping into him deliberately that morning, making him nervous their behavior would escalate and prompting him to call the meeting where he shot his coworkers.
Testimony is expected to continue Thursday.
Over seven prior days of trial, the prosecution made the case that Prince purposefully set out to kill his coworkers and that he was using mental illness as a smoke screen to avoid responsibility for his actions. Central to the state’s case was a video of the incident — showing Prince gather his coworkers together before pulling out a gun and shooting five in the head — and a note prosecutors say he wrote before the shooting, reading “if I don’t make it home, please know that I tried.”
The note was presumably addressed to Prince’s girlfriend, LaKendra Harris, and police testified they found it in the bathroom of Prince’s home. When he took the stand in his own defense at trial, Prince said he wrote the note before moving, briefly, to Georgia during a rough patch with Harris. Prince said he was going there to look for work and that the note was in his nightstand, not the bathroom.
Prince’s attorneys argued that the state could not provide a motive for the shooting, saying mental illness ran deeper than just the day Prince shot his coworkers. They stated Prince was the victim of a 2014 assault that left him paranoid and with a mild brain injury to his frontal lobe — the area of the brain responsible for emotional control and judgment.
Most of the defense’s witnesses spoke to changes in Prince after he was assaulted outside a nightclub in 2014. They said he became paranoid and mistrustful of family and longstanding friends. He also would talk to himself, defense witnesses testified.
Testifying as an expert for the defense, Dr. David Williamson said Prince suffered from major depression with psychotic features, post traumatic stress disorder and a judgment-inhibiting brain injury.
But prosecutors took aim at Williamson’s diagnosis, stressing that he was paid to evaluate Prince and suggesting his testimony was not as trustworthy as its own expert, Travis Klein, a forensic psychiatrist from the state’s Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center.
Klein interviewed Prince as part of a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation and came to a different conclusion, saying that Prince suffers from PTSD and antisocial personality disorder. Antisocial personality disorder cannot be used as a defense in court, per Maryland law, and is characterized by deceitfulness, lack of remorse and irritability, among other symptoms, Klein testified.
Asked if Prince expressed any remorse during their interview, Klein said he had, but not for anyone he injured in the mass shooting.
“He expressed remorse for himself, that he got caught,” Klein said.
Klein also noted that Prince’s behavior did not change before the shooting, but he had left work early the day before the shooting because he felt “exhausted.”
Prince’s attorneys argued that he feared for his life the day of the shooting because his coworkers had been playing pranks on him, deliberately startling him. That course of behavior, and a threatening phone conversation Prince’s defense attorneys said he heard, motivated him to bring the pistol into the granite shop.
Prince never agreed that the gun prosecutors presented at trial was the one he used to shoot his coworkers. A ballistics expert testified that he matched the shell casings found at the scene to the gun presented in court, but, because the gun was poorly made, he could not match the projectiles — including one taken from Sosa’s head — to the gun.