Pager led to arrest of man, 19, in holdup, prosecutor tells jury; Suspect also charged in Howard County murder-for-hire scheme


When a masked robber shot a McDonald's restaurant manager in Baltimore County last January, he left in such a hurry that a pager fell in the snow. That pager led to the arrest of Ardale D. Tickles, 19, of the 1600 block of E. Northern Parkway in Baltimore.

Yesterday, Tickles -- who is charged in Howard County in an unrelated murder-for-hire scheme -- went on trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court, charged with robbery and attempted murder in the McDonald's incident.

Assistant State's Attorney James O'C. Gentry Jr. told a jury that the pager found outside the McDonald's on Joppa Road near Loch Raven Boulevard was rented to a man calling himself, "Knowledge Supreme" -- a nickname used by Tickles.

Gentry told jurors in the courtroom of Judge Alexander Wright Jr. that he will bring several friends of Tickles' to testify that he told them of the robbery. A 15-year-old girl will testify that she was the unknowing getaway driver, while a woman will testify that Tickles told her he borrowed her car to commit the crime, Gentry said.

"He solicited their help in pulling off the robbery," said Gentry. He added that he will bring an inmate from the county detention center to testify that Tickles told him he committed the crime.

In his opening statement, Public Defender Stewart Lyons said the prosecutor has only "circumstantial evidence" against his client.

He described Tickles as a "scared kid" who gave statements to police about his involvement in the crime because "he might be suspicious of the police. He makes some bad decision and makes things worse for himself."

McDonald's manager Raymond Gotha was the first witness to testify in the case.

He described being forced into the office by a man wearing a ski mask and black clothing. Gotha said that only the man's eyes showed through his disguise and the man spoke with a muffled voice.

While Gotha was trying to open the safe, he said, the gunman first shot him in the foot, then the calf, then the stomach.

"I said, 'Why do you want to kill me? I have a wife and two kids. I'm trying to open the safe.'"

Gotha said he could not identify the gunman and was later surprised to learn Tickles was charged with the crime. Tickles had worked for Gotha at the McDonald's for about a month, he said.

In the Howard County case, Tickles is accused of stabbing to death Sara J. Williamson Raras of Elkridge.

Raras' mother-in-law, Emilia D. Raras, 63, has been charged with solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder in the incident in November.

Pub Date: 9/16/99

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