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Anne Arundel

Justices dismiss 2002 murder case

With a single-line order that offered no insight into their reasoning, the Supreme Court on Monday dismissed the case of Leeander Jerome Blake, who had been charged with carjacking and fatally shooting Straughan Lee Griffin as Griffin was unloading his sport utility vehicle in front of his Annapolis home in September 2002.

In throwing out the prosecution's appeal of whether it could use an allegedly incriminating statement from the then-17-year-old Blake after he had requested, then waived, his right to an attorney, the nation's highest court passed on an opportunity to clarify one of the so-called Miranda warnings that govern police interrogations.

Blake will not face state charges in the case because of a Maryland law that has since been changed that required charges to be dropped when prosecutors lose such an appeal.

After Blake was arrested, he asked for a lawyer and police suspended their questions. However, Blake changed his mind before an attorney arrived, and he agreed to give a statement - under conditions his attorney maintained were tantamount to duress.

Blake was in a chilly holding cell wearing only his underwear. He was handed charging documents that said "death penalty" - the maximum penalty for murder - and that said Terrence Tolbert, his neighbor who had been arrested a day earlier, had named him in the murder. As a juvenile, Blake could not have been sentenced to death.

Officer Curtis Reese, who has since left the Annapolis police force, taunted Blake by saying: "Bet you want to talk now, huh."

William Johns, lead detective in the case, said he admonished Reese for the remark. About a half-hour later, Blake spoke with Johns.

Legal experts thought the Supreme Court might use the Blake case to rein in or clarify Miranda rights - the familiar recitation that opens with: "You have the right to remain silent" and includes the right to a lawyer - and alter the rules for police interrogations nationwide.

Page 1A, Tuesday, Nov. 15


Woman shot in stomach Monday

A woman was shot in the stomach Monday night inside an Annapolis residence and was taken to Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

The shooting in the 1800 block of Bowman Court was reported about 9:45 p.m. The victim was identified as Mitzi Lee Ingram, 40, of Annapolis, said Officer Hal Dalton, a city police spokesman.

Police arrested an Annapolis-area man Wednesday in the horseplay shooting.

Charles Spriggs, 48, of the 200 block of Admiral Drive was arrested on assault charges in the shooting of Ingram.

Ingram told investigators that two people were "engaging in horseplay with a handgun" and teased her, saying that they would shoot her, police said in a news release.

"She told them to 'go ahead,'" the police statement said. One of the two "then pointed the gun at her and shot her."

The other person present was a juvenile, police said. He will not be charged in the incident but was involved in a failed attempt to escape from police Wednesday, authorities said.

Maryland section, Thursday, Nov. 17


4 computers stolen from Steele office

Four laptop computers were taken during a burglary at the Annapolis campaign office of Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele, campaign officials and police said Wednesday.

Annapolis police said the burglary at Steele's Senate campaign office was reported about 5 a.m. Wednesday. Leonardo Alcivar, a spokesman for the Republican campaign, said he had no reason to believe that the office was singled out. Alcivar said he did not believe the computers contained sensitive information.

Carl Tenner, an Annapolis attorney whose family owns the building at 150 South St., said burglars attempted to enter five offices and gained access to four of them, including Steele's.

It was unclear how burglars got into the building, which is across the street from the Anne Arundel County Court House, Tenner said. A window to a law office on the ground floor was broken, but the office door was locked from the inside and outside - meaning burglars could not have left from there and gone to other offices, he said.

The Steele computers appeared to be the only property of significant value taken, several employees in the building said. The campaign office is unmarked and sits to the left of the building's main entrance.

Maryland section, Thursday, Nov. 17

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