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Prosecutors consider additional charges in Wallen murder

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wallenLaura Elizabeth Wallen   FILE PHOTO  

Prosecutors in the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office are determining whether a 33-year-old Damascus man charged with killing his girlfriend Labor Day weekend can also be charged with killing the woman’s unborn child.

Olney resident Laura Elizabeth Wallen, 31, was four months pregnant when she was killed, family members said.   The Damascus man accused of her murder, Tyler Tessier, 33, is believed to be the father.

Montgomery County Police charged Tessier Sept. 13 with the first-degree murder of Wallen. If Tessier is found guilty, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. However, the Montgomery County state prosecutor's office has not ruled out requesting a sentence that would allow for consideration of parole. 

"We have not made that decision yet," Korionoff said. 

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Va. Circuit Court judge sentences man to 48 years for murders of Lyon sisters

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LyonSisters Montgomery County policePhotos of sisters Sheila Lyon, 12, and Katherine Lyon, 10, before their disappearance in 1975. COURTESY PHOTOS  Bedford County Circuit Court Judge James W. Updike Jr. sentenced a man to 48 years for the murders of two young girls who disappeared from Montgomery County in 1975, according to court records.

Lloyd Lee Welch pleaded guilty to the first-degree murders he committed March 25, 1975, of sisters Sheila Mary Lyon, 12, and Katherine Mary Lyon, 10, according to court records.

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The battered spouse and the contract killer

gavel2 1 Whether battered spouse syndrome should be a defense in criminal cases has been a controversial issue for many years. Since 1991, a Maryland statute has made such evidence admissible to prove the defendant’s motive or state of mind at the time of the alleged crime. Whether this defense may be available even where the battered spouse hired someone to kill her husband was addressed by a divided Maryland Court of Appeals this week in a case called Karla Louise Porter v. State of Maryland.
Judge Adkins’ opinion for the 4-3 majority indicates a long history of physical and verbal abuse by the defendant’s husband toward her. The defendant testified at trial that eventually she concluded that she knew her husband was going to kill her and she wanted to kill him first. She approached several, eventually hiring someone to kill him at their place of business, with the defendant calling the police to make it sound like a robbery gone bad. She was arrested and charged with first degree murder. At trial, in addition to testifying to the history of abuse, the defendant called two experts who testified that she was suffering from battered woman syndrome including major depression and posttraumatic stress disorder.

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Gang membership and criminal sentencing

gavel2 1 The Trump Administration just recently announced that it was making a priority of prosecuting members of gangs that commit criminal acts, and in particular members of the gang known as MS-13. Maryland’s highest Court just last week addressed whether a sentencing Judge can consider evidence of the defendant’s membership in a gang, even where the underlying crime was not gang related. The case is called Oscar Cruz-Quintanilla v. State of Maryland.
Chief Judge Barbera wrote in the opinion that the defendant was indicted for various crimes related to a home robbery. A jury convicted him of reckless endangerment, wearing/carrying/transporting a handgun, and conspiracy to commit robbery.At sentencing, the prosecution offered for the first time evidence that the defendant had been a member of MS-13. The State called a police Sergeant who testified about and showed pictures of various tattoos on the defendant that showed he belonged to that gang.
The officer said the defendant was a documented gang member since at least 2004. He further testified that members of that gang have to demonstrate loyalty and a willingness to commit violent criminal acts, consistent with its motto translated as “kill, rape, control.”

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Local educator held with no bail in robbery

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A local woman remains in jail with no bond after being charged in connection with a robbery scheme.

Police arrested and charged an 18-year-old man and 33-year-old school teacher in connection with robbing two men at gun point in a planned robbery in Gaithersburg.

City of Gaithersburg police arrested and charged Nelson Leiva, 18, and Lakeisha Burrison, 33, with armed robbery after holding up two men at gun point in a Gaithersburg parking lot in July. While Leiva was released on bond after he turned himself into police, Montgomery County District Court Judge John C. Moffett denied bond to Burrison.

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Metro Transit Police arrest suspect in Red Line shooting

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jermaine brown 1Metro Transit Police arrested Jermaine Brown, 18, in connection with a shooting incident on a Red Line train near Takoma station. COURTESY PHOTO Metro Transit Police arrested Jermaine Brown, 18, of Seat Pleasant on Sunday in connection with a shooting that occurred on the  Red Line  near Takoma Metro Station the same day.

The shooting occurred aboard a Red Line train before the train crossed the D.C. border to reach Takoma Metro Station around 3 p.m., Metro officials said. The victim, Brown’s 14-year-old half-brother, suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen. A Metro Transit Police officer at Takoma rendered first aid to the victim, who was transported to a local hospital and remained in stable condition as of Monday morning.

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While searching for new chief, Takoma Park sets goals for police department

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takoma park logoTAKOMA PARK – The Takoma Park City Council voted on a resolution to lay out goals and priorities July 26 for its law enforcement agency while searching for a new police chief.

“I think the resolution is great, and I love the emphasis that it places on community policing and greater engaging with the public,” said Council member Peter Kovar (Ward 1).

The resolution outlines 12 priorities the police department is expected to follow. Priorities include upholding citizen rights, commitment to transparency, ensuring accountability, and community outreach.

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Man convicted in murder of transgender woman

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Rico LeBlond, the man charged in the murder of transgender woman Zella Ziona, was convicted of first-degree murder Tuesday.

The jury convicted LeBlond, 22, guilty on one count of first-degree murder for the 2015 murder of Ziona.

“Today’s conviction of Rico LeBlond on First Degree Murder is justice attained for Deandre Smith, a young man living as Zella Ziona,” said State’s Attorney for Montgomery County John McCarthy. “This was a cold blooded execution of a person he knew since grade-school.” According to police, Ziona’s gender identity may have played a role in her murder.

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Grand jury indicts three in Northwest HS murders

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NW HS murder suspectsEdgar Garcia-Gaona, Jose Canales-Yanez and Roger Garcia have been indicted for the murders of Northwest High School students Shadi Adi Najjar and Artem Ziberov. FILE PHOTO  A grand jury indicted three men charged with the murders of two students from Northwest High School Thursday.

Jose Ovilson Canales-Yanez, 25, Edgar Garcia-Gaona, 24, and Roger Garcia, 19, were indicted on murder charges for the killings of Northwest High School seniors Shadi Adi Najjar and Artem Ziberov.

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Let the punishment fit the plea

gavel2The majority of criminal cases that come to Court result in a plea agreement, rather than an actual trial. In Maryland it is not unusual for the prosecution and defense to agree on the parameters of the plea including potential punishment, and to ask the trial judge to agree to be bound by the terms of the agreement before sentencing. Maryland’s highest court recently addressed what happens when the sentence actually imposed is actually less severe than the minimum agreed to by the defense, in an opinion called Stephanie Smith v. State.
The Court of Appeals’ opinion indicates that the defendant was indicted for insurance fraud, and charged with theft in excess of $10,000. The defense attorney and prosecutor negotiated an agreement for the defendant to plead guilty, with an agreement that the defendant not be sentenced to more than 5 years of jail time with all that suspended except for a minimum of 30 to 90 days incarceration, followed by 5 years probation. The agreement was also that the defendant would pay restitution to the victim of over $47,000.

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