Raymond Jerman Jr. recalls how he and his late father would wake up at 4 a.m. on the third Sunday of every October to travel to North Carolina to be there by the time the food was on the table for their family's annual reunion.
Tomorrow, the Gambrills man will go to Howard Circuit Court for a different kind of reunion, a reunion of lawyers and judges in the case of the man accused of stabbing his father to death six years ago.
For the third time, county prosecutors will try for a conviction against the Laurel man charged with first-degree murder for the September 1987 stabbing death of 85-year-old Raymond Jerman Sr., a popular vendor at area horse-racing tracks.
"I'm going to do all I can do in my power to see that justice is done," the victim's 53-year-old son said.
Nuri Tuncer Icgoren, a Turkish immigrant and a former exercise rider at Bowie Race Course, is accused of stabbing Mr. Jerman six times during an alleged robbery along U.S. 1 in North Laurel on Sept. 29, 1987.
Mr. Icgoren, 41, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison after a 1988 trial, but the state Court of Special Appeals overturned the verdict and ordered a second trial.
At Mr. Icgoren's second trial in November 1992, the jury was deadlocked after two days of deliberations, and a mistrial was declared.
Raymond Jerman Jr., who operates the grocery store established by his father, said the last six years have been a heartache for his family as they wait for a conviction.
Regardless of the trial's outcome, Mr. Jerman said, he believes justice will prevail.
"I trust in the Lord," he said. "I believe in a God who rewards good and evil. . . . If justice is not paid on the earth, God will."
Harry Trainor Jr., a Landover attorney who represents Mr. Icgoren, said the last six years have been hard for his client, who spent most of the time in a cell at the county Detention Center.
"If I said it was difficult, that would be a great understatement," said Mr. Trainor. "The strain on the [Icgoren] family is tremendous."
Mr. Icgoren, detained after his arrest in October 1987, was released after his bond was reduced to $100,000 in April.
For the new trial, which is expected to last two weeks, prosecutors issued subpoenas for 43 witnesses, according to court documents. Senior Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell declined to discuss the case for the record.
Mr. Icgoren, who testified at the last trial, may testify again, Mr. Trainor said. The defense has subpoenaed 28 witnesses, records show.
Ms. O'Donnell asserted at the last trial that Mr. Icgoren killed Mr. Jerman in an attempted robbery. Mr. Jerman, known for selling soda, snacks and produce from a pickup at area tracks, often had as much as $50,000 with him to cash checks for racetrack workers.
The prosecution asserts that Mr. Jerman left the Bowie track about 12:30 p.m. to go to the Freestate Race Course in Laurel, and then Mr. Icgoren left the track, speeding after the elderly vendor in a gold 1977 Ford Ranchero.
Prosecution witnesses are expected to testify that they saw the driver of the Ranchero force Mr. Jerman's blue Datsun pickup off the road.
But Mr. Icgoren testified at his last trial that he had been driving along U.S. 1 on the way to Pimlico Race Track when he saw Mr. Jerman's pickup along the highway.
Mr. Icgoren testified that he checked on Mr. Jerman, who seemed to be leaning forward in the cab. He said he thought Mr. Jerman suffered a heart attack when he called his name and got no response.
He testified that he did not see any blood on Mr. Jerman's clothing or notice any money in the vendor's pockets or truck.
The defendant said he drove away, but stopped at a Jessup service station and considered calling the police, but decided against it because he feared being interrogated.