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Edgewood man, 28, found guilty of murder

The Baltimore Sun

A Harford County jury has found an Edgewood man guilty of second-degree murder after almost 10 hours of deliberation.

Sean Nelson Smith, 28, will be sentenced March 6.

The jury, which returned the verdict about 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, rejected Smith's argument that he shot Samuel David Horne on Aug. 11 in self-defense. They also found Smith guilty of the use of a handgun in a violent crime.

Second-degree murder carries a sentence of up to 30 years in prison, and Deputy State's Attorney Scott Lewis said he would likely ask the judge for the maximum.

The jurors did not find Smith guilty of first-degree murder, although prosecutors had argued that the defendant planned the shooting.

That disappointed the victim's family.

"If you kill someone, you should deal with the consequences," Desiree Horne, the victim's older sister, said yesterday. "You should get life if you take away someone's life."

During the trial, witnesses testified that Smith shot Horne in the 1800 block of Brookside Drive, then fled to a car parked a block away. Deputies found Horne lying face down in a parking lot in the neighborhood where he grew up.

Smith testified that Horne had approached him and uttered threats.

"He started to reach behind his back for his gun, and the gun got caught in his back pocket," Smith said. "And that's when I pulled my gun out and I shot him three times."

A gun was never found on Horne.

Prosecutors said that Smith's actions were not consistent with self-defense.

After the shooting, Smith and his friends drove to Baltimore, where they took a ride on a water taxi and dropped the handgun into the harbor. Smith then went to New York, then Stamford, Conn., where he was arrested nearly two weeks later, prosecutors said.

"We felt we put forth a sufficient self-defense issue where we felt the verdict should've gone our way," said Smith's attorney, John Janowich. "We're pleased he was not found guilty of first-degree, but we were hoping the self-defense would prevail."

Three other suspects have been identified in connection with Horne's death. Prosecutors dropped charges against Nicholas Daron Porter in exchange for his testimony in Smith's trial.

The whereabouts of Vance Edwin Major is unknown, Lewis said. The trial of Ravon Leonard Watson, who is charged with conspiracy and accessory, is scheduled for March 24.

"They planned to do this, and half of them are going to get away with it ... " Horne's sister said.

Samuel Horne would have turned 26 yesterday.

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