A Baltimore County man charged with first-degree murder said yesterday that police led him to think it would be in his best interest to answer their questions before calling a lawyer.
But Carroll County Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold denied the man's request to suppress the statement he made to police about the Jan. 29 shooting death of Gregory Lamont Howard.
Timothy Cumberland, 23, of Reisterstown, is one of three men charged in the slaying, which police called drug-related.
Mr. Cumberland appeared with his lawyer, Michael Montemarano of Baltimore, before Judge Arnold yesterday to ask him to suppress Mr. Cumberland's entire statement to police the day he was arrested.
On the stand yesterday, Mr. Cumberland said that the first thing Westminster Police Detective Lt. Dean Brewer told him was that he did not have to answer questions without a lawyer present. Mr. Cumberland also said he was read his rights.
He said Lieutenant Brewer was friendly with him, and that he asked the policeman what he thought he should do.
"He just said it would look better for me if I just told him everything that happened," Mr. Cumberland said.
He said Lieutenant Brewer told him police didn't believe Mr. Cumberland was the trigger man.
"He made me feel like I should tell him what happened before I got blamed for something I didn't do," Mr. Cumberland said.
However, a prosecutor persuaded Judge Arnold to deny the motion to suppress the statement, saying that Mr. Cumberland was aware of his rights.
"You said the first thing he said to you when you walked in the room was you didn't have to answer any questions without a lawyer [present]," said Carroll Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill.
Regarding Mr. Cumberland's testimony about asking the officer's advice and his claim the officer advised him to talk, Ms. Hill said, "[Lieutenant Brewer] said he didn't remember the defendant asking the question, and would not have given him that answer."
Also charged in the slaying are Daniel Justin Leonard, 23, of Reisterstown, and Samuel A. Miller, 22, of Owings Mills. Police allege that Mr. Miller pulled the trigger.