- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A receipt for a prepaid cellphone, a firearms safety-course certificate and a very particular type of ammunition are among the clues that led authorities to charge a 65-year-old Silver Spring woman with first-degree murder in the shooting of her cousin.

But documents filed in D.C. Superior Court list no eyewitness to the homicide, no recovery of any murder weapon, and no known motive in the December slaying of Anthony Garland Rice. On Wednesday, attorneys on both sides of the case will be in court for a preliminary hearing to review the circumstantial evidence that authorities have against the suspect in Rice’s killing — his cousin, Claire Rice.

“I’m focused on trying to get my client released from jail in a case that presents no evidence of a crime,” said Ms. Rice’s attorney, Marlon Griffith.

Rice’s death made news when his body was discovered in a park near Marshall Elementary School in Northeast, about two blocks from the home of Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy L. Lanier.

Ms. Rice was arrested earlier this month and charged in the death of her 58-year-old cousin after submitting to multiple interviews with detectives, during which they say she changed details of her statement no fewer than four times. The interviews eventually led police to search Ms. Rice’s home and car, where police said they recovered evidence they believe links her to the killing.

The day Rice was shot, he left his Logan Circle apartment believing that he would be doing some electrical work for a friend of his cousin’s, according to information provided to police by a friend of Rice who was at his apartment that day.

At about 2 a.m. Dec. 17, Rice received a phone call — purportedly from Ms. Rice — and went outside the apartment to meet her. Thirty minutes later, Rice called the friend, telling the person he was in the Fort Lincoln area of Northeast and that he would be back to his apartment soon, the court documents state.

But Rice didn’t return. About nine hours later, he was found dead in the 3100 block of Fort Lincoln Drive in Northeast. He had been shot in the head and the chest.

When detectives initially interviewed Ms. Rice, a manager at a Laurel Applebee’s restaurant, she denied having seen her cousin in more than three months. She later changed her account, saying she had agreed to meet Rice the night he was killed because he needed $150 to pay off a debt. And then again to say that the pair had gone to Fort Lincoln to buy marijuana and that after buying the drugs, Rice had disappeared into the park with the dealer. In each account, Ms. Rice stated that she never called her cousin’s phone because her battery had been dead.

When police searched the number that had last called Rice’s phone, they discovered that it belonged to a prepaid cellphone that was used for only two weeks in December and had no subscriber information.

When they searched Ms. Rice’s car, police found a receipt for a disposable cellphone and an airtime card. Detectives pulled surveillance footage from the drugstore where the purchase was made, and the footage showed Ms. Rice buying the phone.

The phone has not been recovered, but police said she later admitted to buying it.

Though a murder weapon has not been recovered, police said they found a trail of evidence linking Ms. Rice to the same type of weapon that was used to kill her cousin.

Three Hornady bullets — the only brand on the market filled with a red rubber compound — were found at the scene of the shooting, according to court records. Ballistics analysis led police to believe the bullets were all fired from a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver.

A search of Ms. Rice’s Silver Spring home turned up a Maryland Police Training Commission Firearms Safety Course Certificate, which led police to discover that she Rice recently had bought a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver.

“Eleven days before the murder of Anthony Rice and after the background check was completed, Claire Rice took possession of the revolver and ammunition from the gun store,” court records state.

The store that sold Ms. Rice the gun also sold only two types of ammunition for the revolver — Winchester ball ammunition and Hornady hollow-point bullets with a red rubber-filled tip.

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