Columbia teen's murder trial set to open tomorrow

The Baltimore Sun

The trial for Monti Mantrice Fleming, a Columbia teenager being tried as an adult in the fatal shooting of another teen during a fight in 2006, is scheduled to begin tomorrow in Howard County Circuit Court.

Fleming, 16, of the 6500 block of Overheart Lane in Owen Brown, is accused of shooting and killing Shawn Edward Powell, 18, of the 5400 block of Harpers Farm Road in Harper's Choice, during a fight in August 2006 at a Hickory Ridge apartment complex.

He is charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, reckless endangerment and handgun violations, and is being held without bail at the Howard County Detention Center.

According to charging documents, witnesses said Powell had been in a verbal altercation with a group of people, including Fleming, after a gathering at a Crystal Run Road apartment complex. Fleming chased Powell after he attempted to leave, shooting at him, according to the charging papers.

Fleming is also charged as an adult in the attempted first- and second-degree murder of Mark F. Golston, who was shot in the leg in Columbia about a week before Powell.

If convicted of first-degree murder, Fleming could face life in prison without parole.

In October, a Howard County Circuit Court judge denied a request by Fleming's attorney, Joseph Murtha, to be tried in juvenile court. In Maryland, all juveniles are charged as adults in murder cases, but defendants can request to have their cases moved to juvenile court.

This month, a judge denied a motion filed by Murtha to exclude ballistics evidence in the case, saying that the firearm and tool mark identification procedures historically accepted by courts in the state are not reliable enough.

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