- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2000

A Prince George's County (Md.) Circuit Court jury yesterday began deliberating the fate of a man accused of firing the stray bullet that killed a mother of five while she was hanging curtains in her Capitol Heights home last summer.

"The intent followed the bullet," Assistant State's Attorney Robert Dean told the jury in his closing arguments in the 2-day-old trial of Keith Arnez Boone.

Boone, 21, of Suitland, is charged with second-degree murder in the June 16 slaying of Dona Elizabeth Randolph Ferguson, 40. Prosecutors believe Boone was trying to shoot someone else when his bullet pierced Mrs. Ferguson's window and killed her.

Mr. Dean noted for the 11-woman, one-man jury that, under Maryland law, Boone can be convicted of second-degree murder even though his intent was to kill someone else.

Circuit Judge Richard H. Sothoron Jr. instructed the jurors that the law allows for conviction of second-degree murder if evidence shows no intent but demonstrates "extreme disregard for human life."

The jury began deliberations last night and will resume this morning, weather permitting.

In his closing arguments yesterday, defense attorney Douglas Wood reiterated that his client was not even in the 6800 block of Walker Mill Road the night of the Ferguson killing, insisting he was framed by the testimonies of a co-defendant and a drug dealer.

"You can't believe that testimony. You can't trust Norman Bonds with [Boone's] life," Mr. Wood said. "Ronald Rice the elder got up here and flat out lied."

Ronald Rice Sr., 60, and Ronald Rice Jr., 33, both of Capitol Heights, also are charged with second-degree murder in the Ferguson death. The elder Mr. Rice is scheduled to stand trial next week; his son's trial is in April.

Mr. Bonds, 20, of Oxon Hill, testified that he had been dealing drugs the night Mrs. Ferguson was killed. He also told the court that Boone pulled a 9 mm pistol on him and fired it as he fled.

Mr. Bonds said Boone was was seeking revenge because Mr. Bonds had knocked out the younger Mr. Rice the previous night during a dispute over the sale of $10 worth of crack cocaine.

The elder Mr. Rice testified that he drove the 1993 white Nissan Maxima and overheard his son and Boone discuss beating Mr. Bonds. Mr. Rice also said that only his son entered his home afterwards and that he did not know who hid the 9mm handgun police found in his ceiling over the water heater.

"His gut reaction is to protect his son," Mr. Wood said.

The Rices also face charges of using a handgun in a felony, attempted murder, first-degree assault and being an accessory.

Mr. Dean said that Mr. Rice Sr. and Mr. Bonds corroborated each other, and that other witnesses who did not know Boone gave descriptions of the gunman that matched his physique and appearance.

Anika Stroud, a neighbor of Mrs. Ferguson's, said she was at a child care center about 6:30 p.m.

"I looked up and saw a guy shooting," she said, demonstrating how the shooter put the gun back into his pants waistband.

Police evidence technician Dennis Babcock testified that she found a bullet casing in the parking lot 165 feet away from a bullet hole in the window and Venetian blind of the house where Mrs. Ferguson was hanging curtains.

Firearms expert Cpl. Arnold Esposito said the mechanism and rifling of the 9 mm Luger found in Mr. Rice Sr.'s ceiling matched the shell casing and the slug that Miss Babcock dug out of the wall opposite the pierced window.

Assistant Maryland Medical Examiner James Locke testified that the bullet entered Mrs. Ferguson's left shoulder, perforated her left lung and esophagus, fractured her right clavicle and exited at her right armpit.

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