Two officers testify on suspect's account of Annapolis killing


Describing a quick and chilling homicide in Annapolis' Historic District, two police officers testified yesterday that murder-carjacking suspect Terrence Tolbert told them that Straughan Lee Griffin had no opportunity to react before he was shot point-blank and run over with his own Jeep in front of his home.

"I said, 'Did Mr. Griffin say anything?' and he said, 'No, he didn't get a chance to say anything,'" Maryland State Police Cpl. Edward White Jr. told Anne Arundel County Circuit Court jurors yesterday, recounting that Tolbert called the Sept. 19, 2002, fatal shooting of Griffin "just a robbery gone bad."

Tolbert said that as he came toward Griffin, who was unloading his vehicle in front of his home, the businessman held up a black or dark shirt and was shot in the face by Tolbert's alleged accomplice, Leeander Jerome Blake, Annapolis Detective William Johns testified.

The two took the victim's keys and drove off, running over Griffin with his vehicle in their rush to leave the cul-de-sac, police said. The two had wanted the Jeep to get to Glen Burnie, police said Tolbert told them.

Tolbert told police that they feared getting caught when a police car, sirens blaring and lights twirling, got behind the Jeep a few blocks away. He said they pulled over, and the police cruiser passed, bound for Cumberland Court, where Griffin lay on the tan bricks, a few blocks from the State House.

Police testified that Tolbert told them he had the gun earlier that afternoon, but passed it to Blake as the pair walked through Annapolis looking for a car to steal.

Police accounts of what Tolbert, 21, told them came in the third day of testimony in the trial. If convicted of felony murder, Tolbert could be sentenced to life in prison without parole.

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