Judge refuses to reduce sentence in Westminster shooting death


Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold has refused to shorten the 30-year prison sentence Samuel Allen Miller is serving for the January shooting death of a Westminster man.

Without comment, Judge Arnold on Monday denied Miller's written request for a sentence modification hearing.

"I will not consider changing the sentence," the judge said yesterday. "It was not part of any [plea] deal that I would make any reconsideration."

In a plea bargain with prosecutors that Judge Arnold accepted, Miller pleaded guilty to second-degree murder for his role in the Jan. 28 killing of Gregory Lamont Howard, 22, of Old Manchester Road. Authorities said Miller fired the shotgun that killed Mr. Howard.

In exchange for his plea and his testimony against other defendants in the case, prosecutors agreed to drop first-degree murder charges and recommend a 30-year prison sentence. Miller had faced a possible sentence of life without parole if he had been convicted of first-degree murder.

Because he pleaded guilty, Miller, 22, of Reisterstown, stands little chance in appealing his conviction. He can, however, ask a three-judge panel to reconsider his sentence, and he can apply for post-conviction relief.

Another defendant in the killing, Daniel Justin Leonard, 23, also has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the case. Prosecutors have agreed to a sentence of no more than 10 years for Leonard.

Leonard will be sentenced after the first-degree murder trial of Timothy Cumberland, the last defendant charged in the case.

Leonard and Miller are expected to testify against Mr. Cumberland at his trial, which is scheduled to begin on Jan. 31.

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