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2 charged in slaying of state trooper Police say suspects were carrying cocaine in car; Death penalty possible; Widow breaks down; couple who helped get praise, honors


A phone number for information about a trust fund for the 7-month-old daughter of Trooper Edward A. Plank, who was shot fatally Tuesday, was incorrect in Wednesday's editions. The number for certified public accountants Wigglesworth, Layton and Moyers is 1-410-742-1121.

* The Sun regrets the error.

SALISBURY -- Flanked by grieving family members and the couple who helped catch one suspect in the killing of a trooper, state police superintendent Col. David B. Mitchell announced yesterday that two men have been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting.

Accused in the first fatal shooting of a Maryland state trooper in nearly five years were a North Carolina man and a New York man who police said were carrying a pound of cocaine south on U.S. 13 near Princess Anne early Tuesday morning.

The announcements were made during an emotional press conference yesterday at the Salisbury barracks.

The widow of Tfc. Edward A. Plank spoke briefly before breaking into quiet sobs.

"I have the deepest gratitude towards Dennis," said Lori Plank, nodding toward her dead husband's backup the night of the shooting, Trooper Dennis Lord.

Trooper Lord's eyes filled with tears as she spoke.

"He was very proud to be a Maryland State Police trooper," Mrs. Plank said of her husband. Her voice breaking, she continued, "He will have those honors forever."

She also had praise for two other people who were involved in the case.

"My deepest gratitude goes to the Robinsons," Mrs. Plank said, looking at Andrew and Margarite Robinson.

The Robinsons were asleep when a man broke into their home on Route 413 early Tuesday morning and began shooting at them. Mr. Robinson subdued the intruder with an unloaded rifle, knocking him unconscious before calling 911.

Charged in the Tuesday shooting were Ivan Fitzherbert Lovell, 25, of Manteo, N.C., and William Smith Lynch, 21, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

The maximum penalty for first-degree murder is death, according to the charging documents for both men.

Somerset County State's Attorney Logan C. Widdowson could not be reached yesterday for com ment on whether he would seek the death penalty in the case.

State police say that Mr. Lovell and Mr. Lynch were in a borrowed car with North Carolina plates on U.S. 13, just south of the Somerset County town of Princess Anne, when Trooper Plank stopped them just before 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Unsatisfied with the identification provided by the pair, he and his partner were walking back to the stopped car when one of the two occupants shot and killed Trooper Plank, state police said.

Trooper Lord returned fire, wounding one of the men in the car. Both men fled.

Mr. Lovell had two bullet wounds, one in his head and one in his right arm, when he was arrested shortly after the shooting in the home of the Robinsons.

Mr. Lovell remained under guard yesterday in Salisbury's Peninsula Regional Medical Center, where he was charged during a bedside arraignment.

Mr. Lynch is being held in the Somerset County Detention Center, said a state police spokesman, Lt. Gregory M. Shipley.

Mr. Lynch was caught near a roadblock on U.S. 13 Tuesday afternoon after a sweeping manhunt on the Lower Eastern Shore.

At yesterday's press conference, state police said that investigators found a pound of crack and powder cocaine in the suspects' car, a red Plymouth Sundance with North Carolina plates.

Colonel Mitchell estimated the street value of the drug at $83,000. One semi-automatic .45-caliber handgun has been recovered during the investigation, state police officials said.

Plaques for courage

In addition to announcing the charges, Colonel Mitchell presented the Robinsons with plaques honoring them for "heroic action of extraordinary bravery, honor and courage on Oct. 17, 1995."

The Robinsons accepted their plaques with thanks, but made no other comment. Mr. Robinson, 64, is a farmer and school bus driver, according to Lieutenant Shipley.

"Words cannot describe how much we appreciate their quick action," said Colonel Mitchell. He said that when Trooper Plank's widow met the Robinsons on Tuesday, it was "an emotional moment -- clearly a bond" was formed.

The father of the slain trooper, Edward A. Plank Sr., gave a short statement at the news conference. Visibly shaken, he had to pause several times.

"He was a great son, a good father. A 7-month-old daughter does not have a father now because of this tragic event," Mr. Plank said.

Beside him, his wife and his daughter-in-law wept as he spoke.

Others on the Lower Shore also mourned the trooper yesterday. At the spot on U.S. 13 where the shooting occurred, two troopers from the Princess Anne barracks, where Trooper Plank was based, placed a cross with yellow and white paper flowers.

Attached to the cross was a teddy bear, the kind state troopers keep in their trunks to comfort children who are accident victims.

'He was a nice guy'

"He was a nice guy," said a somber Jess Davis, a Somerset County resident who stopped at the cross yesterday afternoon. "I wanted to come to the scene and pay respects to the guy."

Mr. Davis, 41, said he knew Trooper Plank casually.

"I met him 8 or 10 times," he said as he looked at the cross and the scarlet chalk marks left by state police investigators on the roadway. "He was always happy, real easy-going. He didn't take life's problems as a burden. He liked the bright side of things."

At the Princess Anne barracks, the mood was somber as well.

"It's a sad time," said Carol Johnson, a Berlin barracks record administrator who came to Princess Anne yesterday to help answer the phone.

"We've gotten lots of calls today from people wanting to send money" to help the slain officer's family, said Paula Hammond, a secretary at the barracks.

A trust fund has been established for the trooper's infant daughter, Hayley Elaine Plank, state police officials said.

Donations may be sent to The Hayley Elaine Plank Trust Fund, c/o Wigglesworth, Layton and Moyers, CPA, 506 S. Division St., Salisbury 21801. (The telephone number is 410-742-1101.)

Trooper Plank's funeral is scheduled for tomorrow morning and will be private, state police officials said.

Family members requested donations to the fund in lieu of flowers.

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