A Baltimore County man pleaded guilty yesterday to second-degree murder for his role in the January shooting death of a Westminster man.
Daniel Justin Leonard, 23, of Reisterstown entered his plea before Circuit Judge Luke K. Burns Jr. He is the second of the three defendants in the case to accept a plea bargain.
Samuel Allen Miller, 22, who admitted shooting 22-year-old Gregory Lamont Howard, pleaded guilty last week to second-degree murder. He was sentenced by Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold to 30 years in state prison.
The third defendant, Timothy Cumberland, 23, was scheduled to go to trial today, but his case has been postponed. A new trial date has not been set, said Assistant State's Attorney Kathi Hill.
Leonard, the owner of the gun that police say was used in the killing, will be sentenced after Mr. Cumberland's trial.
Mr. Howard's mother, Patricia Winfield, a Carroll County probation agent, declined to comment on the plea.
The Jan. 29 slaying occurred on South Center Street after a drug deal went sour. Police said that Mr. Howard, who died of a shotgun wound to the chest, was not involved in that drug transaction.
As part of his plea bargain, Leonard has agreed to cooperate with the state's attorney's office in its prosecution of Mr. Cumberland. In exchange, prosecutors will recommend that Leonard serve a 10-year sentence; however, Leonard will be free to argue for a lesser term.
According to the plea agreement, Leonard will testify against Mr. Cumberland at his trial and will provide prosecutors with a statement regarding his involvement in Mr. Howard's death. He also will make a "good-faith effort" to help prosecutors and police locate evidence and additional witnesses in connection with his criminal activities, the agreement states.
If Leonard is untruthful or uncooperative in his dealings with law enforcement authorities, the plea bargain will be withdrawn.
Miller also has agreed to cooperate with prosecutors.
Police and court records allege that Miller, Leonard and Mr. Cumberland went to South Center Street and bought $40 worth of cocaine from an unidentified woman. They asked for more, but the woman told them to go "around back."
There, police said, they met a man who sold them another $40 worth of what they thought was crack cocaine. After driving away, the three found that they had been sold laundry detergent.
They returned to South Center Street to look for the seller, and Mr. Cumberland stood outside the car waving a shotgun, prosecutors said.
Mr. Howard approached and asked the group to leave. Mr. Cumberland then tossed the gun to Miller, who shot Mr. Howard, prosecutors said.