Timothy Cumberland may not have fired the blast that killed a 22-year-old Westminster man after a drug deal went bad near midnight Jan. 28, 1993. But Carroll County jurors decided yesterday that he was as culpable as his two friends, who pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Gregory Lamont Howard two years ago.
After nearly eight hours of deliberation, the jury of 10 men and two women convicted Cumberland -- who was facing the charges for the second time -- of second-degree murder and carrying a dangerous weapon.
The 26-year-old Reisterstown man was convicted of first-degree murder in February 1994, but appellate judges overturned the verdict in March, when they decided that Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck had misled jurors about the meaning of intent.
"All along, we believed we were probably looking at a second-degree murder case," said prosecutor Clarence W. Beall III.
"We feel good. It was a tough case for the jury to deal with because it involved three different people."
Cumberland's sister, Jennifer Scheihling, was angered when the jury convicted him of second-degree murder after acquitting him of first-degree murder.
"This county is as crooked as you'll ever get," said a friend of Cumberland as she, Ms. Scheihling and Cumberland's wife stormed down the courthouse hall. "I hope every member of that jury can sleep good tonight."
During the weeklong trial, prosecutors argued that Mr. Howard -- who had nothing to do with the bad drug deal -- had gotten in the way of Cumberland's anger.
Cumberland, who bought a bag of soap flakes instead of the expected crack cocaine, jumped out of the car and brandished a shotgun. When he got back in the vehicle, he handed the weapon to Samuel Allen Miller, who fired the fatal blast.
Miller is serving 30 years in state prison; Daniel Justin Leonard, who owned the gun and drove the car, is serving 10 years.
"In our evaluation, Mr. Cumberland was the second-most-culpable," Mr. Beall said, noting that he could receive up to 30 years in prison. "Our theory has been that they [Miller and Cumberland] both had their hands on the weapon."
Mr. Beall said Cumberland will get credit for the time he has served since his arrest in January 1993.