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Harford judge deems alleged gunman in 2017 Advanced Granite shooting competent to stand trial

Lawyers for an Elkton man suspected of shooting five people and killing three at an Edgewood business park in 2017 said they will pursue a “not criminally responsible” determination if their client is found guilty after a Harford County judge deemed him competent to stand trial Monday.

The trial for Radee Labeeb Prince will also take place in Harford County, after Circuit Court Judge Yolanda L. Curtin denied a defense motion for a change of venue. Prince’s 14-day trial is set to begin in September.

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Prince, 39, is charged with three counts of first-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-degree murder, use of a firearm in a violent crime and illegal possession of a regulated firearm in connection with the shooting at Advanced Granite Solution in Edgewood on Oct. 17, 2017. Three people died and two others were injured in the incident.

The shooting set off a daylong manhunt in Harford County and also in Delaware, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Prince was later arrested in Newark, Delaware. Prior to his arrest, police said he shot a sixth person, a man he had worked with in Delaware. He was convicted of attempted manslaughter last May and sentenced to serve 40 years in prison in that case.

He was extradited to Harford County on Nov. 15 to face the charges related to the Advanced Granite shootings.

Since a hearing in January, Prince underwent competency evaluations by two doctors, who said with a reasonable degree of certainty that Prince “understands the nature of the charges against him and is able to aid in his defense,” Curtin said during Monday’s hearing.

Based on those doctors’ findings, Curtin said, “the court finds also Mr. Prince is in fact competent to stand trial.”

Deputy Public Defender John Janowich and Assistant Public Defender Marcus Jenkins, who are representing Prince, told Curtin they still plan to pursue a “not criminally responsible” determination if Prince is found guilty of any of the charges he is facing.

Not criminally responsible means the defendant either cannot distinguish between right and wrong or cannot conform to conditions of the law, Janowich said.

The determination of criminal responsibility is made once a defendant had been convicted, he said.

Change of venue

Jenkins argued that Prince will not be able to receive a fair and impartial trial in a Harford County court because of publicity surrounding the case.

He provided her with a stack of articles from The Sun and The Aegis from this year about the shooting, which he called a “historical event” in Harford County.

“There’s not ever been a case like this before,” Jenkins said.

Prince’s face has been publicized since the shooting, including Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler holding up a photo of Prince as the suspect in the case, before his arrest.

“Prospective jurors in Harford County have seen that, they’ve seen Mr. Prince’s face, they’ve read Mr. Prince’s articles,” he said. “Even though the incident occurred in 2017, it’s still in the media. Closer to the trial, the media still will be writing about the case, still be putting his face in the paper.”

It will be impossible, he said, to find someone in the county who is impartial, who has not already judged the facts.

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“The potential is very, very great for Mr. Prince not to receive a trial by a fair and impartial jury,” Jenkins said.

Curtin agreed it’s likely most prospective jurors will know about the Advanced Granite shooting. But she said the voir dire process should vet potential jurors to determine if they can put aside their knowledge of the crime and be fair and impartial if selected for the jury.

“Isn’t that the purpose of jury selection?” she asked. “Having knowledge of an event does not preclude a juror from serving.”

There have been other high profile cases in Maryland, with extensive publicity locally and nationally, and all those cases have remained in the jurisdiction where they occurred, Curtin said.

Evidence in the case

During arguments regarding photographs that could be used as evidence in the case, Assistant State’s Attorney Scott Lewis provided the first look at what to expect.

Janowich said he submitted a “cautionary filing” so the state does not inundate jurors or the rest of the court with pictures that are “extremely graphic and extremely disturbing.”

Lewis said he intends to present autopsy photographs, as well as crime scene footage, both video and still photographs.

The video is shot from a distance and an opposite angle of the shooting, and it’s difficult to see where the victims are, he said.

“[The photos show] all three fatalities are close together and the proximity of the shell casings to the victims bodies, and what obstacles faced the victims as they tried to flee,” Lewis said.

Curtin said it’s premature to rule on Janowich’s filing because no evidence has been submitted, but she will consider the motion if and when it becomes an issue.

Both sides filed motions to preclude certain evidence from being used during the guilt/innocence phase of the trial.

Lewis argued, and Curtin agreed, the use of Prince’s medical records from a 2014 assault have no relevance to the 2017 incident and cannot be introduced. It could, however, be used if and when the jury considers a judgment of not criminally responsible.

She made the same ruling on the defense’s behalf that no details of a shooting in Delaware be permitted as part of the Advanced Granite shooting. The state can discuss where Prince was arrested, where the gun was found and other details about the circumstances in Delaware as they pertain to the Maryland case, but not about the shooting itself.

On his behalf

Before Janowich and Jenkins became involved in the case, Prince filed his own motion to dismiss the case, which he argued Monday before Curtin.

Prince told the judge he did not sign, twice, an interstate detainer to waive extradition proceedings to bring him back to Maryland. He was held in Delaware while his case there was adjudicated.

He was indicted in Maryland in January 2018, but he wasn’t served with the paperwork until May.

“I seen it on the news, the assistant district attorney made a statement, but I never received my paperwork. Why did it take 100-plus days to send me a copy of the indictment and why did they not respond until October to motions I filed in May?” Prince said. “I believe that’s a clear violation to my rights in this case.”

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Curtin said the court could not take any action until Prince arrived in Maryland and had tried to schedule a speedy trial for Prince — within 120 days — but the trial was postponed in January so he could undergo further psychiatric evaluation.

She denied his motion to dismiss the charges.

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