- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Prince George’s County jury found a man guilty of first-degree murder in last summer’s fatal shooting of his 17-year-old former girlfriend in Landover, an incident that highlighted the mishandling of a felony arrest warrant by the county’s Office of the Sheriff.

The shooting occurred Aug. 9, 2010, two weeks after Marcus Shipman was accused of threatening, LaCole Hines, the mother of his child, with a gun as part of an ongoing dispute over custody of their 1-month-old son. A felony arrest warrant issued after the incident was never served because it was misfiled in a stack of misdemeanor warrants, the sheriff’s office said at the time.

The jury of six men and six women never heard about the July 25 incident as Prince George’s County Circuit Court Judge Beverly J. Woodard banned prosecutors from questioning witnesses about the incident. After approximately 90 minutes of deliberation, the jury found Shipman, 24, guilty of first-degree murder and the use of a handgun in a crime of violence. Sentencing is scheduled Oct. 14.

While the verdict brought some measure of closure for Hines‘ family, relatives said they are still angry at the missteps made by the sheriff’s office.

“That department is totally responsible for where we are today,” Tawanda Brown-Hines, the victim’s stepmother, said Thursday after the verdict was read. “This is a 17-year-old minor. They failed her miserably.”

Hines‘ father, Ricky Hines, who currently has custody of his grandson but is battling to end visitation rights for Shipman’s family, said he’s still trying to determine a way to file civil charges against the department.

“I’m still real bitter and angry with how the sheriff’s department handled this,” he said, adding that while the department apologized publicly, they have never contacted his family to speak privately about the incident.

During the four-day trial, friends of Hines testified she and Shipman had a contentious relationship and that the two fought often over custody of their baby, who bears his father’s name and is now a year old. On the day Hines was shot, she had gone to Brightseat Liquors, a store near an apartment where she was spending time with friends, to meet Shipman and pick up the baby. Friends said the car he was riding in pulled away as she spoke to him and she became angry and distraught.

Believing he would give her the child, Hines arranged to meet Shipman at the store again later that day. She had just crossed the threshold of the store’s doorway around 3 p.m. when a person wearing a mask shot her in the back of the head, according to police reports.

Public defender Dan Moskov, who represented Shipman, called the testimony of several against his client “lies” by opportunists who wanted to beat charges themselves. He questioned the lack of a mask being found by police in the case, and the absence of Shipman’s fingerprints on the handgun recovered or gunpowder residue on Shipman’s shirt as evidence Shipman was not the shooter.

Shipman’s brother who came to parts of the hearing declined to comment.

Shipman had on two occasions prior to the shooting spoken to an acquaintance, Staccordo Riley, about wanting to kill Hines, according to testimony.

Mr. Riley, who has an agreement with prosecutors to reduce charges he faces from a separate incident in exchange for cooperating in this case, testified that when speaking about Hines in late July 2010, Shipman said he wanted to “push her over” — slang for killing her.

“I told him to leave it alone ‘cause it’s not worth it. Or to pay my sister some money and she’ll beat her up for him,” he said.



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