The trial of a man accused in the shooting death of his ex-wife's boyfriend opens today in Howard County Circuit Court.
Adel George Hagez, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Riad S. Hijas on June 22, 1991, at a Jessup motel.
His former wife, who also was at the motel, may be a prosecution witness.
A judge took the unusual step of jailing Virginia Dorhan Hagez, 44, of Richmond, Va., after determining that she might flee the country to avoid testifying. Although no bail was set immediately after her April 22 arrest, a judge set bail at $150,000 Tuesday.
Circuit Court Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr., who will preside at the trial, reviewed that ruling Friday and agreed with it.
"Mrs. Hagez wouldn't want to be anywhere near this case," he said.
Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage said that Mrs. Hagez posed a risk because she went to Lebanon last year when the trial was first scheduled, forcing its postponement.
Authorities arrested Mrs. Hagez two weeks ago after they went to a relative's home on a tip and found Mrs. Hagez hiding in a closet. Prior to that she had refused to accept several summonses.
Judge Sybert considered releasing Mrs. Hagez into a home detention program Friday, but determined that wouldn't be practical.
The idea also was unsatisfactory to her attorney, James Hanson, who believes his client should be freed since she's a witness, not the defendant.
Mr. Hagez is free on bond, which was posted for him by his former wife in July 1991.
At Friday's hearing, Mr. Hanson said Mrs. Hagez should at least be permitted to testify first "so her liberty may be restored as rapidly as possible."
Ms. Gage told a surprised judge she had no idea when Mrs. Hagez would testify.
"I hope to put her on the stand and use her," Ms. Gage said. "I cannot tell you exactly what day I intend to use her."
But Mr. Hanson countered, "They have her arrested so she will testify, and won't say if she will testify.
"Jailing a witness," Mr. Hanson, said outside the courthouse, "It's incredible."
Mrs. Hagez's brother Bill Durham, 41, of Richmond, Va., called the decision unfair and said the family doesn't have the money to post bail. "I don't see how they can keep her in jail," he said. "Something is wrong with this system. It's un-American."