Hagez murder trial begins


Opening arguments began yesterday in the trial of a 45-year-old Richmond, Va., man who is charged with killing his cousin at a motel in Jessup almost two years ago.

Adel George Hagez, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in the slaying of Riad S. Hijas at the Holiday Inn in Jessup on June 22, 1991.

During opening arguments yesterday in Howard Circuit Court, defense attorney Richard O'Connor portrayed Mr. Hagez as an innocent man and a successful restaurateur. He said the cousins, both from Lebanon, once worked together but never argued.

Assistant State Prosecutor Christine Gage said she will present evidence and testimony that will show Mr. Hagez is the killer. She said blood recovered from a revolver found in Mr. Hagez's car matched the victim's blood, and that one of Mr. Hagez's fingerprints was found on the gun, which had six spent cartridges.

After shooting Mr. Hijas three times in room 410, the killer shot Mr. Hijas three times at close range "to finish him off", she said. "That blood splattered back on the gun."

"He [the killer] did not think to wipe off the prints," Ms. Gage said. "He did not think to wipe off the victim's blood."

Ms. Gage said Virginia Dorhan Hagez, 44, who divorced Mr. Hagez in March 1991, was in the room the day of the murder. At the time, Ms. Hagez was working as a vendor at the Columbia City Fair.

When police arrived after the shooting, Ms. Hagez told police what happened, Ms. Gage said.

The Richmond woman may be called as a state's witness, and is being held in lieu of a $150,000 bond at the detention center. The prosecutor fears she may flee to Lebanon to avoid testifying.

When police searched Mr. Hagez's car, which was parked at a metro station in Silver Spring, they found incriminating evidence inside the trunk, Ms. Gage said.

"Stuffed inside a file folder is a 350 Magnum Colt revolver," the prosecutor said.

"There's blood on the gun and six spent cartridges."

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