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'It was either me or him,' murder trial hears

The Baltimore Sun

Witnesses testified yesterday that the man accused of killing an Edgewood resident said after the shooting, "It was either me or him."

Sean Nelson Smith, 28, of Edgewood is charged with first-degree murder, two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and possession of a handgun. His attorney, John Janowich, has said Smith shot Samuel David Horne in self-defense because the victim had a notorious reputation and previously threatened his client.

Six months ago, Horne was found shot four times, lying facedown in a parking space in the 1800 block of Brookside Drive.

Nicholas Daron Porter, a friend of Smith's, testified that Horne made threats the night before his death and approached him, the defendant and his friends the afternoon of Aug. 11 on an Edgewood street yelling, "Y'all think it's a game," with a hand behind his back.

Smith was the shooter, Porter said. They and two other friends drove to Baltimore, where one of them dropped the gun into the harbor, he testified. During the frantic drive, Porter recalled that Smith said, "He made me do it. It was either me or him."

Another witness, a woman, testified that Smith called her and said, "It was either me or him."

Initially, Porter was charged with conspiracy to commit murder, but the charge was dropped when he agreed to testify.

Smith's attorney said Horne had a dangerous reputation after shooting a man June 6, 2006. Horne was never charged. The Harford County sheriff's office says the information that Horne was responsible did not surface until after his death. Detectives have yet to determine the validity of the allegations, said Sgt. Christina Presberry.

During the second day of the trial, prosecutors called seven witnesses, including the victim's mother, Mildred Samy.

Deputy State's Attorney Scott Lewis asked her a few questions, keeping her on the stand for less than 10 minutes. During his final question, he held a photo of Horne, taken after he died, and asked her to confirm whether the man was her son.

Samy looked away from the image, holding back tears, and replied softly, "Yes, that is my son." She left the stand sobbing.

The trial is expected to continue until early next week.


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