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Imprisoned man charged with garage owner's murder


A former automobile mechanic who was a prime suspect in the 1987 slaying of Essex tow-truck operator William E. Eiler was charged with murder in the case yesterday, Baltimore County police said.

Although it took four years to come up with evidence to charge 37-year-old James Edward Prince, the police had no trouble finding him. Prince was in the Maryland Penitentiary, serving a sentence of life without parole for another 1987 murder.

Mr. Eiler, 58, was the tough and controversial owner of the Eastern Garage whose ties to politicians and police officials were the subject of an investigation of corruption allegations in 1975. He was gunned down at close range outside his Essex town house early on Aug. 24, 1987.

Prince, an employee of Mr. Eiler's, was questioned soon after the killing but never charged -- although he was "a primary suspect," Baltimore County police spokesman E. Jay Miller said yesterday.

Nearly four months after Mr. Eiler was killed, Prince was charged with capital murder in another case -- the murder of Anita Grace Baugher, 55, whose naked body was found in a ransacked bedroom of an Essex home where she had been baby-sitting for two young children.

Ms. Baugher had been beaten and shot two times.

Prince, who did not testify at his trial, insisted that he was innocent as a judge sentenced him in October 1988 to life without the possibility of parole.

Mr. Miller said that the police recently recovered physical evidence placing Prince at the scene of Mr. Eiler's murder. The spokesman would not elaborate on the nature of the evidence that led to Prince's being charged yesterday with first-degree murder.

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