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Police ease Brookeville residents concerns after body found in shallow grave

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4th District Montgomery County Police Commander M. R. Yamada meets with concerned Brookeville residents after skeletal remains were found Nov. 12 20174th District Montgomery County Police Commander M. R. Yamada meets with concerned Brookeville residents after skeletal remains were found Nov. 12 2017  Photo by Glynis KazanjianBROOKEVILLE — Local residents needn’t be concerned about any imminent threats to their safety despite the discovery of human remains in a shallow grave last week, the Montgomery County Police 4th District commander said on Monday evening, Nov. 20, to approximately 40 people at a community meeting held at the Salem United Methodist Church.

"There is no direct threat to our community that I'm aware of," Captain M.R. Yamada said, while speaking to Brookeville residents who attended the meeting.

The remains were discovered on Sunday, Nov. 12 by a local resident while walking his dog in a wooded area behind the church. Police said the man alerted them to the human skeletal remains – which police discovered in a shallow grave – after deciding to investigate why his dog kept going off into the woods from the path.

The remains are now under examination by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Baltimore, but the race or gender of the remains is still undetermined, as cause, manner and time of death.

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Suspect convicted in murder of Gaithersburg teen

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A jury has convicted a suspect in connection with the assault and murder of a local teenage girl whom police found dead in February.

The jury convicted Wilmer Sanchez-Serrano, age 21, in connection with the assault and murder of 15-year-old Damaris A. Reyes Rivas, confirmed Chief Deputy Clerk Gerarda Culipher of Fairfax County Court.

Reyes Rivas attended Watkins Mill High School before her mother reported her missing in December.

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Rockville man charged with murder of his married girlfriend

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Dania Suyapa Mendez De Guerra Missing Person WheatonDania Suyapa Mendez de Guerra was found dead Friday near her place of work at a KFC in Wheaton. A co-worker has been arrested and charged in her apparent homicide. COURTESY PHOTO  

A local man is in jail without bail after authorities charged him with killing a married co-worker.

Prosecutors Saturday charged Elmer Marilan Campos-Martinez, 47, of Rockville with second degree murder. He apparently had an ongoing affair Dania Suyapa Mendez de Guerra, 21, of Wheaton. Campos-Martinez worked with de Guerra at the KFC restaurant on University Boulevard in Wheaton.

On Monday, a Rockville District Court judge denied bail to Campos-Martinez after learning a final removal order has been issued against him by U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement.

"The defendant presents a clear danger to the community and is a flight risk," Judge Margaret Schweitzer said in Rockville District Court Monday. "He has nothing to lose. It is appropriate for him to be held without bail." 

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Disclosing the identifying witnesses you say

gavel2It is a common to see in movies or television a dramatic scene where the prosecution suddenly calls to the stand the surprise witness who identifies the defendant as the killer. The Maryland Rules of Criminal Procedure require that prior to trial the prosecution must disclose “all relevant material or information regarding…pretrial identification of the defendant by a State’s witness.” How this rule works in practice was discussed by a divided Maryland Court of Appeals in a case called John W. Green III v. State.

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Two arrested in possible gang-related murder

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Jesus Ponce Flores Arrest Photo 300x280

Jesus Ponce Flores, 18, COURTESY PHOTO 

Montgomery County police said they arrested and charged two local males Tuesday regarding the murder of a 20-year-old man, whose body was found in a creek in Silver Spring Sept. 6.

The man, 20-year-old Cristopher Alfredo Funes Guerra, was reported missing Sept. 3.

The Chief Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide by multiple stab wounds, according to an Oct. 18 Montgomery County Police press release.

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Murder suspect won’t face charges for death of victim’s unborn child

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4K5A4219 1Montgomery County State's Attorney John McCarthy holds a press conference with Assistant State’s Attorneys Donna Fenton (left) and Mary Herdman (right) on the indictment of Tyler Tessier in the murder of Laura Wallen. PHOTO BY GLYNIS KAZANJIAN  

A grand jury has indicted Tyler Tessier on one count of murder in the homicide of his pregnant girlfriend Laura Wallen, but Tessier cannot be charged for the death of her unborn child due to Maryland law, according to State’s Attorney John McCarthy.

After finding the body of Laura Wallen in a shallow grave in Damascus, police arrested Tyler Tessier later that same day on Sept. 13 on charges of first-degree murder, altering physical evidence and making a false statement to an officer. While a grand jury indicted Tessier on one count of murder last Thursday, he will not be charged with the death of Wallen’s unborn child due to state law, McCarthy said at a press conference in Rockville on Friday.

“Her child was autopsied,” McCarthy said. “A medical team established at the time of Ms. Wallen’s murder the child was 14 weeks old. Based on medical testimony, the child was not viable independent of Ms. Wallen. Based on those medical findings, and as a matter of law in Maryland, as a result the defendant is not chargeable with a second count of murder related to the child.”

McCarthy confirmed Wallen died from a gunshot wound to the back of her head. Wallen, a 31-year-old high school teacher from Olney, was four months pregnant at the time of her death, according to online court records.

Tessier, 33, could face a maximum penalty of life in prison, but prosecutors will consider the unborn child and could ask the judge to consider life in prison without the possibility of parole, McCarthy said.

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Slain high school teacher's boyfriend indicted with murder

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tessier Montgomery County PDTyler Tessier. FILE PHOTO On Thursday, a grand jury indicted Tyler Tessier, 33, on one count of murder in the homicide of his pregnant girlfriend Laura Wallen,

Police arrested Tessier Sept. 13 on charges of first-degree murder, altering physical evidence and making a false statement to an officer. A court hearing is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 20 at 8:30 a.m. in the Montgomery County Circuit Court in Rockville.

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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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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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Man receives 30 years in prison for murder at local hotel

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Keith RenierKeith Renier at the time of his arrest. COURTESY PHOTO  ROCKVILLE – Crystal Blakeney held up the urn that contained her daughter’s ashes and pleaded with Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Marielsa A. Bernard to give the maximum sentence to the man that pleaded guilty to killing her daughter.

“I request the maximum penalty for what he was convicted of,” Crystal Blakeney said.

On Aug. 18, 22-year-old Keith Renier, who pleaded guilty to murder in the second-degree of transgender woman Keyonna Blakeney, was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Bernard went five years beyond the state’s recommended guidelines for second-degree murder. Renier will be eligible for parole in 15 years.

“If I could give you more than 30 years, I probably would,” Bernard told Renier.

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