Violent crimes conviction won’t lead to death penalty

A man who was traveling through Maryland when he allegedly killed four people has been convicted by a jury on four counts of first-degree murder. The defendant, age 47, was accused of killing two women and two children in August 2010 after a failed search for drugs in an apartment. He could be sentenced to life without parole in connection with the violent crimes. The good news: Prosecutors cannot seek the death penalty, as capital punishment has been abolished in the state.

The defendant was accused of killing the four victims after a cooler full of marijuana supposedly disappeared from their apartment. One of the women told the man that several intruders had made off with the drug cooler; the marijuana was never recovered. He had been traveling through the state from Texas and attempting to sell thousands of dollars worth of the drug. Authorities say that all four of the victims were shot “execution style” in an apartment in Lanham.

News reports show that the trial lasted for six days, with 30 witnesses and hundreds of items logged into evidence. Testimony from the man’s girlfriend was critical to his conviction, according to officials, though defense attorneys say that woman’s statement is not consistent with evidence. Perhaps the most compelling piece of evidence was the man’s own confession, which was videotaped by officers.

Although the man has been convicted, his legal process is not yet complete; a sentencing hearing will occur in the future, though none has yet been scheduled. Criminal defendants accused of violent crimes may need the assistance of their attorneys even after they are convicted. These attorneys may provide additional help through the sentencing and appeals process. A conviction is not necessarily the end of the story for those convicted of murder charges.

Source:  The Washington Post, “Maryland jury finds Darrell Bellard guilty in drug-related quadruple slaying” Lynh Bui & Rachel Weiner, Apr. 17, 2014