Police officer pleads guilty to murder charges


A suspended Baltimore police officer avoided risking the death penalty by pleading guilty yesterday in Carroll County Circuit Court to two murder charges -- for the repeated close-range shootings of a woman pregnant with his child and her 5-year-old daughter in Harford County.

Michael Edward Thompson of Parkville, who turns 28 on Sunday, will receive two consecutive life sentences next month for the first-degree murder charges under a plea bargain accepted by Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger.

The prosecutor, Harford County State's Attorney Joseph I. Cassilly, gave a graphic presentation of the evidence to support the guilty pleas, with slides of the bloody crime scene in the 2800 block of Conowingo Road (U.S. 1) in rural Street, about nine miles north of Bel Air. A 12-gauge shotgun and an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle used in the killings of Vicky Lee Austin, 30, and her daughter Jessica Elaine Morgan on April 13, 1998, were displayed.

After Cassilly filed notice of his intention to seek the death penalty, the case was moved twice, first by the defense from Harford County, then at the prosecutor's request from Baltimore County.

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