The prosecution's key witness to a murder at a Jessup hotel was hysterical as she ran to police officers to report the shooting, according to testimony in Howard Circuit Court yesterday.
Two county officers testified that the woman, Virginia Dorhan Hagez, told them that there was a shooting in her room as they got out of their police cruisers outside the Holiday Inn on June 22, 1991.
"She was hysterical. She was screaming. She was running toward me," said one of the officers, Detective Luther Johnson. "She kept saying over and over, 'Is he dead? Is he dead?' "
Detective Johnson was called to the stand in the third day of testimony in the trial of Adel George Hagez, a 45-year-old Richmond man charged with murder.
Mr. Hagez is accused of shooting Riad S. Hijas, also of Richmond, six times after a confrontation at Mrs. Hagez's hotel room. Mr. Hijas was Mrs. Hagez's boyfriend, police said. Mrs. Hagez and Mr. Hagez were divorced about three months before the shooting.
The other officer, Victoria Plank, testified that Mrs. Hagez was dizzy and hyperventilating. At one point, the woman collapsed into Detective Johnson's arms, the officer said.
The officer said Mrs. Hagez told her that nothing was "going on" between her and Mr. Hijas because her former husband had threatened her if she got involved with another man.
However, Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr. ordered the jury to disregard Mrs. Hagez's statement to Officer Plank because it was not directly related to the shooting.
Mrs. Hagez, who owns four Richmond restaurants with her husband, was in Howard County with Mr. Hijas to operate a food stand at the Columbia City Fair, according to testimony.
In other testimony, county Detective A.J. Bellida De Luna testified that he saw a man get out of a red car, either a Nissan or Datsun with Virginia tags, and approach one of the fair's food vendors on the morning of the shooting.
The detective was working as a security guard.
Police found Mr. Hagez's car, a red Nissan Sentra, parked in a garage at a Metro stop in Gaithersburg three days after the shooting, Detective Lawrence Teixeira testified.
Prosecutors also presented the jury with a videotape of the hotel room where the shooting occurred. The video showed the body of Mr. Hijas lying on his back near the room's door, in a pool of blood with gunshot wounds to his head.
Mrs. Hagez, a 44-year-old native of Lebanon who witnessed the shooting, has been jailed at the county Detention Center since April 22 to make sure she testifies at the trial. Prosecutors said they feared Mrs. Hagez would flee the country to avoid testifying.
Mrs. Hagez remarried her former husband at the detention center on April 30 in an effort to avoid testifying. But Judge Sybert has ordered the woman to testify, saying he believes the couple remarried to "hinder justice." People are generally excused from testifying against their spouses.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage said she is not certain when she will call Mrs. Hagez to testify.