Prosecutor cites evidence tying man to Crownsville slaying


Michael David Swartz's bloody palm print was found on the door frame above the body of a 52-year-old man who had been stabbed 48 times, his shoes were bloody a short time after the slaying and his bloodstained shirt was found at the house of an alleged accomplice, a state prosecutor said at Mr. Swartz's trial in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court yesterday.

Mr. Swartz, 25, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Robert Austin Bell at his Crownsville home July 9, 1990. Mr. Swartz is the brother of Larry Swartz, who was convicted of killing their parents in Cape St. Claire in 1984.

Also charged in Mr. Bell's death is Ronald Lamar Scoates, who faces charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery and conspiracy. A third co-defendant, Henry Louis Stettler IV of Annapolis, pleaded guilty in February to being an accessory to murder after the fact and is expected to testify for the prosecution. He is the son of H. Louis Stettler III, chief deputy state treasurer.

Police say they think the men went to Mr. Bell's home to borrow money or to steal a jar containing coins and that Mr. Swartz and Mr. Scoates entered while Stettler waited in a car.

Deputy State's Attorney William D. Roessler said in his opening statement that Mr. Swartz had blood on his shoes and legs when police questioned him soon after the murder and that his bloodstained shirt was found at Mr. Scoates' house in Annapolis.

Assistant public defender James D. McCarthy Jr. said in his opening statement that Mr. Swartz waited outside the house with Stettler while Mr. Scoates went in. When Mr. Swartz realized that Mr. Bell had been killed, he called 911 and reported it, the defense attorney said.

"Within a few minutes, Michael Swartz, in panic and fear, ran to the Annapolis Hotel and said to the security officer, 'You've got to get to the police,' " Mr. McCarthy said.

Mr. McCarthy said that Mr. Swartz later told police, "I think two guys just committed a murder."

Mr. McCarthy also said that only Mr. Scoates' footprints and fingerprints were found in Mr. Bell's house.

Mr. Scoates had lived with Mr. Bell for about two months after being released from a Florida prison where he had served less than seven years of a 35-year sentence for murder.

David Charles Rollins Sr. testified yesterday that Mr. Scoates had said he might kill Mr. Bell after Mr. Bell asked him to move out of his house. Mr. Rollins said he didn't take the threat seriously.

Copyright © 2020, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad