The March 2019 death of two men in a Glen Burnie apartment complex was a drug robbery that ended in violence. Or, it was an act of self-defense by an 18-year-old pot dealer facing robbery and death at the hands of two gang members.
An Anne Arundel County prosecutor and the lawyer for a Brooklyn Park man argued both possibilities Monday during the first day of trial in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court.
Both sides agree that Antwon Elijah Queen, 20, and Antwan Troy Briggs, 24 were shot to death at an apartment complex on Highland Drive on March 24.
Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Steinhardt told the jury in Annapolis that prosecutors will provide evidence and testimony that Edwin Javier Hurtado-Valdez, 21, tried his hardest to cover his tracks after killing the two men.
Hurtado-Valdez has been charged with two counts each of first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault, and one count of using a firearm in a felony violent crime, according to electronic court records.
“[Hurtado-Valdez] doesn’t call the police or wait for them or render aide to Queen or Briggs and destroys the 9mm firearm with a hammer drill and throws away his clothes and deletes communication between him and Queen then flees,” Steinhardt said.
He fled to his native Mexico after the shooting, leaving behind his pregnant wife. Arrested there, he waived his extradition rights and was returned to the country in April 2019.
Josh Insley, a lawyer for Hurtado-Valdez, said one witness heard Queen and Briggs plotting to rob his client before a deal set up to sell marijuana.
“They lured him into the apartment to a dead-end laundry room and they brandish a firearm and took all the weed,” Insley said. “Once they found out he didn’t have a lot on him and one said, ‘he saw my face we have to smoke him’ and that is when Hurtado began wrestling over the gun.”
Insley said Hurtado-Valdez wasn’t fleeing police when he headed for Mexico, but from the gang that counted Queen and Briggs among its members.
“He didn’t fear getting arrested or his worry, he knew he didn’t do nothing wrong,” Insley said. “When he was picked up he said ‘he went there to pick up weed’ that is his only legal concern. He didn’t want them to know he was selling marijuana.”
Insley said Hurtado-Valdez volunteered to make multiple statements about the situation.
But Steinhardt said some of Hurtado-Valdez statements to detectives investigating the case are believable but others are not.
Hurtado-Valdez and Queen went to North County High School together and kept in touch. Hurtado-Valdez messaged Queen on social media to sell him weed, Steinhardt said.
The prosecutor said the key to self-defense and the use of deadly force is that it must be reasonable and no more force used to repel the attack.
“The evidence is will show that no way the defendants use of deadly force was reasonable or necessary,” Steinhardt added. “There was one gun in that laundry room.”
County police Detective Dana Crockett was the first witness called by the prosecution. He was the first officer to arrive at the scene of the shooting in 2019.
Upon his arrival, Crockett found Queen in the parking lot unresponsive, suffering from a gunshot wound. Crockett began applying medical attention.
Sgt. Greg Pilkerton arrived shortly after Crockett and testified that he went into the laundry room where he found Briggs’ body.
Police charged Cambrea May Lyn Sieck, 19, as an accessory after the fact after the shooting deaths, saying she helped her husband flee the scene of the homicide and hide evidence. Pregnant at the time, she faces a trial in July.
Hurtado-Valdez made it to the Mexican border sometime after the double-homicide. Anne Arundel County police said Hurtado-Valdez was arrested by Mexican police in Tamaulipas, Nuevo Laredo near Laredo, Texas.
The trial is expected to continue Tuesday.