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Suspect in death of D.C. cabbie tied to killing in Waldorf

Teen said to have told his girlfriend

- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A 17-year-old boy charged along with his girlfriend in the killing a D.C. cab driver bragged to the girl about his involvement in a previous shooting in Maryland, during which a woman was killed and her husband injured, according to police.

The conversations between the young couple, detailed Tuesday by a Metropolitan Police Department homicide detective in D.C. Superior Court, explained how authorities quickly linked Joshua Mebane of Waldorf, Md., to a killing for which he now also faces an arrest warrant in Charles County.

"He told her he's the one who shot the man and killed the woman," Detective James Tyler III said during a preliminary hearing for Mr. Mebane. He added that the teen showed the girl a sketch of the shooting suspect and asked if it looked like him.

"He asked if she wanted to see the actual gun he used and then showed her the 9 mm," Detective Tyler said.

The teenagers connected through an online social-media site last month but met in person for the first time Nov. 1, a week before the cab driver's fatal shooting, authorities said.

The girl involved in the case, 17-year-old Linda Bury, sat in the courtroom for the duration of the hearing. Her preliminary hearing, also scheduled for Tuesday, was postponed. Mr. Mebane glanced at Ms. Bury as she was led past him in shackles, but her long dark hair obscured her face, and throughout the nearly hourlong hearing she didn't appear to make eye contact with him.

"I think there is clear and convincing evidence that he is a danger to the community, given the admission by him to being involved in another homicide in Maryland," said Judge Thomas Motley, who ordered that Mr. Mebane be held without bond pending his trial.

Ms. Bury, of Parkton, Md., and Mr. Mebane were arrested and charged with felony murder in the Nov. 7 shooting of cab driver Quadar Muhammad, police said, after Ms. Bury told at least two people about the slaying, and they contacted police.

Emergency responders found Mr. Muhammad dead inside his burning Lincoln Town Car, which crashed behind a school in the 1400 block of Brentwood Parkway in Northeast. The cab caught fire as a result of the crash, which apparently happened after Mr. Muhammad was shot in the back of the head.

Police said the teen couple meant to rob Mr. Muhammad for cash — which they were short on after paying for a five-day stay together at a nearby motel. However, Mr. Muhammad's wallet was recovered from the cab with cash still inside.

During Tuesday's hearing, Mr. Mebane remained stoic, staring ahead as the lawyers spoke. Ms. Bury, who sat behind him, fidgeted, often touching her mouth and chin.

Mr. Mebane's defense attorney, Gretchen Franklin, questioned how much of the story prosecutors could substantiate, given that much of their narrative about the night was coming from the account Ms. Bury provided while in police custody.

"We do understand Ms. Bury said a lot of things," Ms. Franklin said of the differing accounts of the incident that police said Ms. Bury initially made. "Ms. Bury's credibility, for the robbery and attempted robbery, are what the government relies on."

Surveillance video from the motel and a nearby store captured images of the couple walking in the area close to the time of the shooting, Detective Tyler said.

Also, at detectives' request, Ms. Bury reached out to Mr. Mebane on Facebook while she was in police custody and had additional conversations with him. During the online conversations, the two discussed their love for one another and at some point Ms. Bury questioned that love. The comment prompted Mr. Mebane to respond that "his love is true, and she knows his darkest secrets," Detective Tyler testified. "He said because she knew his secrets, that could result in him going to jail or death, as he put it."

A search of Mr. Mebane's mother's home in Waldorf turned up a 9 mm handgun, Detective Tyler testified. Charles County sheriff's officials said ballistics tests linked the gun to the Oct. 26 shooting of a married couple who were walking on a footpath in the Hampshire neighborhood in Waldorf. The woman, Teresa Ann Bass, 40, was killed, and her husband is recovering. Court records indicate Mr. Mebane lived about a mile from that footpath.

It is unclear whether police will be able to link the gun they recovered from Mr. Mebane's Charles County home to the shooting in the District, since the cab caught fire, destroying some evidence. Detective Tyler testified that investigators are still working to analyze what they think is a bullet fragment that was recovered from the cab.

Defense lawyer Jason Downs asked that Ms. Bury's preliminary hearing be postponed, as he had just received additional information in her case. He did not elaborate on the nature of that information. The preliminary hearing was rescheduled for Dec. 17, when Mr. Mebane will also have his next status hearing.

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