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Fight preceded fatal shooting, friends testify


Mary Flora's friends warned her not to leave the Towson nightclub by herself that hot summer night last August -- fearing, they said, that Ms. Flora's angry boyfriend would be waiting for her outside.

Her boyfriend, Ronald A. Manno, 53, had just been kicked out of Rascals in the 1600 block of East Joppa Road after he argued with and pushed Ms. Flora, according to testimony during the first day of Mr. Manno's first-degree murder trial yesterday.

Ms. Flora, 40, a Baltimore County schools employee described by a prosecutor as a "free spirit," apparently ignored her friends' advice and left Rascals by herself about 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 11, 1991.

Moments later she was found face down on a nearby parking lot beside her 1977 Dodge Aspen, a bullet hole in her back.

In dramatic testimony in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday, several prosecution witnesses described how Ms. Flora named her killer, even as she was bleeding to death.

Baltimore County Police Cpl. James Chaconas testified that as he knelt over Ms. Flora, she said, "My boyfriend shot me."

"Who's your boyfriend?" Corporal Chaconas said he asked.

"Ron Manno," he testified she answered.

Officer Chaconas said Ms. Flora was able to tell him where Mr. Manno lived before she was taken to the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore, where she died three hours later.

Mr. Manno, a slight, graying structural engineer who graduated from the Johns Hopkins University, is accused of first-degree murder.

Mr. Manno's attorney, T. Joseph Touhey, said his client was likely to testify today.

Mr. Touhey called the shooting a "total unexplainable tragedy."

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