- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 23, 2003

ANNAPOLIS (AP) — An Anne Arundel County judge yesterday released a second suspect in the killing of an Annapolis man pending prosecutors’ appeal of a ruling barring them from using the defendant’s statements during his trial.

Terrence Tolbert, 20, was released from jail without restrictions.

He had been held without bond since his arrest last year for the Sept. 19, 2002, fatal shooting of Straughan Lee Griffin, 51. Mr. Tolbert’s trial was to have begun yesterday.

Mr. Griffin was shot while unloading groceries in front of his Cumberland Court home, just blocks from the State House.

His assailants stole his Jeep Grand Cherokee and ran over his body as they sped away.

The release was the second major setback for prosecutors.

Leeander Blake, a second suspect, was released June 19 after prosecutors appealed a ruling that his statements to police were illegally obtained and inadmissible in court.

Both men are still charged with first-degree murder.

Mr. Tolbert told police he was present during the shooting, which he described as “a robbery gone bad.”

But Judge Ronald A. Silkworth ruled last week that police had violated Mr. Tolbert’s rights when they took his statement.

The judge said police should have read Mr. Tolbert his Miranda rights again once he indicated involvement in the robbery because he had just acknowledged his role in a crime and was no longer free to leave.

The Baltimore Sun earlier this month reported Mr. Tolbert told a Maryland State Police detective conducting a polygraph test that: “I was there.” But the suspect blamed his younger acquaintance for the death of Mr. Griffin.

Mr. Tolbert, now 20, said he and a teenager he knew only as “B” — later identified as Leeander Jerome Blake — had been smoking PCP and were looking for a ride to Glen Burnie the evening of Sept. 19.

Cpl. Lloyd Edward White Jr. said Mr. Tolbert told him “B” carried the weapon, and when asked who shot Mr. Griffin and who drove the Jeep, Mr. Tolbert responded, “It wasn’t me,” Cpl. White testified.

Judge Silkworth threw out all incriminating statements — including a written account of the crime — that Mr. Tolbert made to Annapolis Police Detective William Johns in Cpl. White’s presence later that evening.

When Cpl. White, the polygraph administrator, told him the test had detected deception, Mr. Tolbert acknowledged a part in the crime. At that point, Cpl. White summoned Detective Johns to join the interview.

Judge Silkworth ruled that only Mr. Tolbert’s statements to Cpl. White alone would be admissible because he was not a suspect at the time.

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