In Tuesday’s closing arguments in the Advance Granite Solutions mass shooting trial, prosecutors said Radee Labeeb Prince was hiding behind mental illness to avoid the consequences of his actions. The defense maintained that Prince was threatened the day he shot his co-workers.
The guilt or innocence of Prince, accused of killing three people in a workplace shooting three years ago in Edgewood, now rests in the hands of 12 Harford County jurors, who began deliberations Tuesday afternoon.
Prince, 40, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder and two related firearms charges in connection to a shooting at the granite shop where he worked on Oct. 18, 2017.
Prince pleaded not guilty to the charges, as well as not criminally responsible — Maryland’s version of the insanity defense.
On Tuesday, Assistant State’s Attorney Timothy Doory pointed to the video of the shooting, where Prince appears to gather his co-workers together before shooting several of them, as the most compelling evidence. He noted that Prince shoots a man on the ground, fires across the shop and calmly walks out after the shooting is done.
“It is chilling to actually watch the murder of three men and the attempted murder of two others, but it is caught on tape,” said Doory, reminding the jury that they can examine the evidence during deliberations.
A note that Prince allegedly left in his home’s bathroom figured prominently in the prosecution’s closing remarks. Doory said it was evidence of Prince’s intent to carry out the shooting. The note, purportedly for his girlfriend LaKendra Harris, read “if I don’t make it home, please know that I tried.”
“He has an independent intent to kill,” Doory said. “How do we know that?” he asked, then held up the note.
Prince, who testified on his own behalf last week, has said the note was written before he moved to Georgia to look for work. He also disputes that it was found in the bathroom, saying he put it in his nightstand.
Defense attorney Mary Pizzo maintained that Prince feared for his life because he heard one of his Spanish-speaking co-workers on a phone call saying the shop workers were going to beat Prince up after work. Because of that, he got his gun from his car. Later, he gathered his co-workers together to try to defuse the tension, she said, when he saw a threatening movement.
She pointed out that prosecutors, while explaining the details of the shooting, did not provide motive for it — the absence of which the jury can interpret as indicating innocence, per Judge Yolanda Curtin’s instructions.
“The state’s case provided no reason, no motive, of why it would be done,” she said.
Pizzo said that a 2014 assault on Prince left him paranoid and gave him a minor brain injury, which forensic psychiatrist David Williamson testified to previously. He diagnosed Prince with major depression with psychotic features, post-traumatic stress disorder and a brain injury to his frontal lobe, which is responsible for emotional processing and judgment.
But assistant state’s attorney Angela Diehl said Williamson was a hired expert whose testimony was bought so Prince could avoid consequences. The state’s expert, Travis Klein, who interviewed Prince during a court-ordered evaluation, diagnosed him with PTSD and anti-social personality disorder — a condition that would not translate to a legal defense, Diehl argued.
“Do not let the defendant use mental illness as his smoke screen for what he did,” she said.
After more than a week of testimony, the jury began deliberating shortly after 3 p.m. Tuesday. Because of COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, the jury is deliberating in the same courtroom where evidence was heard.
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If Prince is found guilty of the charges, the trial will advance to its next phase, where the jury will hear evidence about whether or not Prince is criminally responsible for the alleged acts.