Thursday, May 26, 2005

A Montgomery County jury yesterday heard a tape recording of the 911 call a 20-year-old sailor placed after a deputy U.S. marshal shot him in the foot in a parking lot in Rockville last fall.

Several minutes later, Seaman Ryan T. Stowers, of Redding, Calif., was dead.

“Yeah, someone just shot me in the left foot,” Seaman Stowers shouted to the 911 dispatchers. “I can’t believe he just … he just … shot me.”

Seaman Stowers is referring to Arthur L. Lloyd, who is on trial for fatally shooting the sailor after the two men fought outside Mid-Pike Plaza on the night of Oct. 28.

If convicted, Mr. Lloyd, 54, could be sentenced to life plus 25 years in prison. Mr. Lloyd spent 28 years with the U.S. Marshals Service and retired after the shooting.

Attorneys argued that the two men were involved previously in a traffic incident on Rockville Pike and they then turned into the plaza, got out of their cars and began fighting.

Much of the tape recording was drummed out by loud noises. Mr. Lloyd’s voice was heard occasionally on the tape. In one instance, Mr. Lloyd ordered Seaman Stowers: “Sit down. Sit down. Get down. Get down.”

At one point in the more than one-minute-long recording, Seaman Stowers told Mr. Lloyd, “I’m in the … military,” to which Mr. Lloyd replied: “Listen, I don’t care.”

As the tape recording was played in the courtroom yesterday, Seaman Stowers’ parents, Tricia and Todd Stowers, and his aunt Penny Stowers embraced each other and quietly cried.

The recording accounts for only the initial phase of the incident. Witnesses have testified that Seaman Stowers got back into his red Camaro, continued arguing with Mr. Lloyd outside the driver’s door and drove around Mr. Lloyd’s black sport utility vehicle.

Mr. Lloyd was seen firing three to five more shots, blasting out the Camaro’s rear window. One of the bullets severed Seaman Stowers’ aorta. With Seaman Stowers unconscious, his car rolled down a slope and crashed into a storefront near an arts-and-crafts store.

Diane Chapman, who manages the store, testified yesterday that she had seen the argument take place.

“It looked to me like they were fighting,” she told the jury.

Mrs. Chapman testified that she went indoors to call 911. She said that when she came back outside to retrieve a shopping cart, she looked up and saw the Camaro coming straight at her.

“I [saw] the red car coming and I [saw] glass flying,” Mrs. Chapman said. “I screamed at people to get out of the way.”

When Montgomery County Deputy State’s Attorney John McCarthy showed her a photograph of the crash scene, Mrs. Chapman wiped her eyes, paused and said, “I see a young man behind the steering wheel and laying back in the seat. I ran back in the store and called 911 again.”

“The windshield wasn’t broken,” said Mrs. Chapman, adding that she did not hear any gunshots. “I couldn’t figure out how the back window was broken.”

Later in the afternoon, Mrs. Stowers, a registered nurse, took the stand and told the jury about her son’s career in the military.

Mrs. Stowers said her son enlisted in the fall of 2003, was sent to a training academy and was assigned to the USS Detroit.

“He loved sports, baseball, especially basketball,” she told the jury.

Mrs. Stowers said her son tore his left knee cartilage while playing basketball and was taken to a Navy hospital for surgery. He went to Redding to recover from surgery and then returned to the Navy hospital the morning of Oct. 28 so doctors could determine whether he could return to duty.

Mrs. Stowers choked up as she recalled that her son had called her that afternoon. “He needed money,” to fill his car with gasoline and buy food, she told the jury.

After concluding her testimony, Mrs. Stowers returned to her seat, next to the white sailor’s cap that she has held during the trial. On a screen in front of the jurors was a photograph of Seaman Stowers in uniform, holding a baby niece in his mother’s back yard.

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