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Trial begins of last defendant in gun-shop case


Opening statements began yesterday in the trial of a Marine Corps lance corporal charged with driving a getaway car for a gang of robbers who killed a Belair Road gun shop owner and stole 43 handguns.

Lance Cpl. Keith Bradford, 22, on leave at the time of the Sept. 11 robbery, faces charges of felony murder, attempted murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.

Charles E. Scheuerman, 53, owner of the Northeast Gun Shop in the 4900 block of Belair Road, was shot in the chest after saying, "May I help you?" to two men posing as customers, Assistant State's Attorney Julius A. Silvestri Jr. said.

"He was a salesman, those words were his life," Mr. Silvestri said. "But those words were the last words Charles Scheuerman ever spoke. . . . They didn't want his money. What they wanted were handguns."

Eight other defendants -- including Corporal Bradford's stepbrother, Malcolm Bradford, of the 2300 block of Brookfield Ave. -- pleaded guilty and faced heavy sentences. Corporal Bradford is the only one of the nine men arrested who chose to face Baltimore Circuit Judge Elsbeth Bothe.

After shooting the two men, the robbers looted display cabinets and stole approximately $20,000 worth of high-quality handguns. Police recovered eight guns, while the other 35 firearms are presumed to have been sold, prosecutors said.

Corporal Bradford, of the 2900 block of Fendall Road, is alleged to have waited outside along with other accomplices who were at the wheels of two other cars.

Corporal Bradford is charged with murder as well as with planning the robbery, because Maryland law stipulates that accomplices are as accountable for their actions as are those who actually commit a crime.

A witness got the license number of one of the getaway cars, which turned out to be owned by Corporal Bradford's father, prosecutors allege. Corporal Bradford's own car was also seen at the robbery, they say.

John Hassett, the defendant's attorney, argued that Corporal Bradford was unaware that the men were planning to commit a robbery and simply offered them a ride.

On Monday, the stepbrother and James Blackwell, 24, of the 2200 block of W. Baltimore St., became the last of the defendants to plead guilty in the case.

The other six defendants pleaded guilty March 23.

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