A murder trial expected to last three weeks will begin Monday in the June 2021 shooting death of Michelle Cummings, the mother of a U.S. Naval Academy midshipman struck and killed by a stray bullet while visiting Annapolis for her son’s induction into the service.
Assistant State’s Attorneys Jason Steinhardt and Carolynn Grammas will attempt to persuade jurors to convict Angelo Harrod, a 31-year-old Annapolis man accused of participating in the Pleasant Street shooting June 29 that led to Cummings being killed while she was on the patio of The Graduate Annapolis hotel.
Cummings, 57, was visiting Annapolis from Houston with her husband and son, Leonard “Trey” Cummings III. Police said she was catching up with friends on the hotel patio when she was hit by the fatal shot. She was declared dead at the scene.
After the shooting, fellow Navy parents said Cummings was “all in” and excited to support her son’s journey through the academy. Trey Cummings, now a sophomore, has shown promise playing offensive tackle on the Navy football team.
Annapolis Police wrote in affidavits that Harrod and an unidentified accomplice traveled to Pleasant Street early that morning and opened fire at two people in an SUV parked in front of the fence that separates the street from the hotel. Prosecutors said in a court filing that Harrod fired at least five shots at the Chevrolet Trailblazer. The accomplice fired three more not seen on surveillance video, prosecutors said.
One shot came within inches of the driver, prosecutors wrote. Another shattered the back window. Neither of the car’s occupants was hit.
Another bullet missed the car altogether, traveled through a patch of woods to the hotel patio, and struck Cummings.
“She was struck once,” prosecutors wrote. “The single gunshot wound tragically proved fatal.”
Investigators identified Harrod as a suspect within hours of the shooting after reviewing surveillance footage, according to the affidavits. He had been missing, having cut off an ankle monitor and escaping house arrest the month before while serving time for assault and firearm and drug charges.
After the shooting of Cummings, police located Harrod by the end of the day at a Sunoco station near the Robinwood community. Officers arrested him on open warrants following a struggle. He was later charged with the shooting and identified publicly in July.
Baltimore defense attorney Howard Cardin will represent Harrod.
“He did not do it,” Cardin said, declining to speak further about the defense’s arguments before trial.
Prosecutors defeated Cardin’s motion to exclude evidence from calls Harrod made from jail, where investigators say he and a Robinwood resident he had been staying with at the time were “conspiring and fabricating an alibi to cover Harrod’s time during the homicide.”
Breaking News Alerts
Cardin won a motion to exclude evidence that the firearm used in the killing had been used to shoot at a building in Annapolis about 25 hours before the shooting of Cummings.
Cardin also filed a motion to force prosecutors to disclose the identity of the accomplice, but later withdrew the request. It is unclear why the accomplice, whose gender also is unknown, has gone unrevealed. Prosecutors and police both have declined to divulge further information.
It is unclear from court filings who fired the bullet that struck Cummings, but prosecutors have expressed confidence Harrod will be convicted.
“There is no legal distinction between either the Defendant or the co-conspirator. BOTH are guilty of murder,” prosecutors wrote in a court filing.
The trial is set for 15 days, beginning Monday and concluding Dec. 19. Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Pamela K. Alban will preside over the trial.
Capital Gazette reporter Bill Wagner contributed to this article.