Judge Rules Mistrial In 'Samaritan' Killing

Judge Rules Mistrial In 'Samaritan' Killing

Washington Times - 4/12/2000 - Arlo Wagner, staff

Prince George's County Circuit Judge William B. Spellbring Jr. declared a mistrial yesterday when a jury could not reach a verdict in the murder of a "Good Samaritan" motorist.

The nine-woman, three-man jury asked one question of the court during nearly eight hours of deliberations in the trial of Theodore "Ted" Briscoe, 22, for the murder of Brently Jason Youmans Jr., 31, the night of Sept. 13, 1998, on a lonely country road near Aquasco.

After lunch, the jury asked for the meaning of "participation" in the crimes. Judge Spellbring explained that a person who "aids and abets" is as guilty as those who commit a crime. Such a person must be present voluntarily and intend to participate in the act.

Last evening, when Judge Spellbring asked if it was likely the jury could reach a unanimous verdict, the forewoman answered, "Tonight? No. Tomorrow..." and her voice trailed off.

After a bench conference with prosecutors and defense attorney James N. Papirmeister, Judge Spellbring said, "Based on the forlady's response to my question, I declare a mistrial."

Lawyers said the jury was split 11-1 for acquittal of Mr. Briscoe, whom witnesses had said is mentally impaired and has difficulty comprehending questions and situations. Throughout the six-day trial, he sat stone-faced, not smiling even when he would turn occasionally to look back at his mother.

Mr. Briscoe testified slowly in his own defense. It took six minutes and 10 seconds for him to give a simple answer to one question.

Assistant State's Attorney John Maloney, indicating he will prosecute a second trial, contended that Mr. Briscoe played up his life-long brain problem to get sympathy.

Mr. Briscoe was aware of what his three co-defendants were doing when they lifted the hood of Mr. Briscoe's 1987 Buick Regal and pretended to be broken down. Mr. Maloney said Mr. Youmans, an Adelphi carpenter, was killed and robbed when he stopped to help them.

Mr. Youmans' body was found two days later, with a shotgun wound in the back and three other bullet wounds in his back and legs, along the 18000 block of Horsehead Road near Aquasco.

Already serving life sentences for the murder are Donnie Dawayne "Executioner" Comber, 21, of Temple Hills. Awaiting trial beginning July 10 is Trone Tyrone Ashford, 27, of Temple Hills.

The three co-defendants have also been convicted of killing two Indian immigrants in a Dunkin' Donuts shop in Camp Springs in October 1998.

Mr. Briscoe is charged with conspiracy to commit robbery with a deadly weapon, robbery with a deadly weapon, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, first-degree premeditated murder, and use of a handgun to commit a crime of violence.