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2 on trial for murder this week


County prosecutors are seeking convictions of two men for first-degree murder in separate homicide cases that go to trial in Howard Circuit Court this week.

In one case, starting tomorrow, Troy Lynn Brooks of Baltimore County is accused in the execution-style slaying of a man outside the Woodstock post office in October 1992.

In the second case, which begins Wednesday, Dwayne Romaine Briggs of Columbia stands trial for the second time on charges that he killed a neighbor over a $50 debt in June 1992.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha is expected to call about 15 witnesses to testify against Mr. Brooks, who is charged in the Oct. 10, 1992, shooting death of Kevin Lee Holland, 27, of Baltimore.

Mr. Brooks, 29, of the 7900 block of Brookford Circle in Rockdale, is charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping, assault, battery and weapons counts. He is represented by Baltimore attorney William H. Murphy Jr.

A key prosecution witness is Linwood Taylor Jr., a co-defendant who agreed to testify against Mr. Brooks as part of a plea agreement he accepted last July. The 29-year-old Baltimore man is serving a 15-year sentence at the Eastern Correction Institution in Somerset County after pleading guilty to second-degree murder.

Mr. Holland, the victim, was shot twice in the head with a Hungarian-made semiautomatic weapon while in the parking lot of the Woodstock post office in the 10500 block of Old Frederick Road. Police said they found the Femaru gun used in the shooting in Mr. Brooks' home, which is about eight miles from Woodstock.

Police investigators believe the shooting was drug-related. They said in police reports that Mr. Holland had taken an undisclosed amount of money and drugs from Mr. Brooks.

Prosecutors will seek a sentence of life imprisonment without parole if Mr. Brooks is convicted of first-degree murder. Judge James Dudley will preside over the trial, which is expected to last four days.

Meanwhile, the Briggs trial is expected to last about three days before Judge Dennis Sweeney.

Mr. Briggs could be given a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of killing Lawrence Rico Evans III.

Briggs, of the 7200 block of Eden Brook Drive, is charged with murder, manslaughter, assault with intent to murder, assault with intent to maim, assault, battery and weapons counts.

Senior Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage said she expects to present "pretty much" the same case against Mr. Briggs, whose first trial in January 1993 ended when the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Mr. Briggs, 34, testified at his first trial that he acted in self-defense when he fired six shots from a .25-caliber automatic handgun at Mr. Evans, 21. One of the bullets struck the victim in the chest, killing him.

The shooting occurred outside the Beeches Farm apartment complex in the Kings Contrivance village on June 9, 1992.

Mr. Briggs testified that he and the victim had been friends but the relationship soured when Mr. Evans failed to repay him $50, which he said the victim wanted in order to buy cocaine.

Mr. Briggs testified that he got a gun from his vehicle when he took his dog for a walk. While on the walk, Mr. Briggs said he saw Mr. Evans and two started a conversation.

Mr. Briggs said his dog jerked at its leash, causing him to drop the handgun. As he picked up the gun, he said, he saw Mr. Evans coming toward him.

Explaining that he was afraid of Mr. Evans, Mr. Briggs said that he pulled the trigger, unaware that the gun was aimed at Mr. Evans.

During closing statements at the first trial, Ms. Gage called Mr. Briggs' version of the shooting ridiculous.

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