Plea rejected for disposal of dead body
Lusby man also faces drug charges
A Lusby man rejected the plea offer in his case Friday for a September 2016 incident where he and a Dowell woman allegedly attempted to dispose of a Virginia man’s dead body.
Mark Steven Garner II, 29, was charged with altering physical evidence, conspiring to alter physical evidence and burying/ disposing of a deceased body in an unauthorized place. He is also indicted in two additional cases in Calvert County Circuit Court on drug distribution charges.
His co-defendant, Jacquelyn Renee Wallace, 27, was charged with contributing to a
condition that renders a child in need of assistance, neglect of a minor, altering physical evidence, conspiring to alter physical evidence, burying/disposing of a deceased body in an unauthorized place, possession of a controlled dangerous substance — not marijuana, reckless endangerment and possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substance administering equipment for the Sept. 26 incident, online court records state.
During the early morning hours Sept. 28, authorities were dispatched to the Calvert Marina in Solomons for a check welfare call, according to a statement of facts read into record by Deputy State’s Attorney Kathryn Marsh. Upon arriving on scene, officers made contact with the complainant, Garner, who reportedly said he called the Calvert County Control Center because he did not know what to do about his friend, George Lee Rome Jr., 28, whom he said had just died from an overdose.
Garner then took officers near the tree line of the marina where Rome was allegedly found wrapped up in blankets and sheets, lying face down, Marsh stated. The officer reportedly ob- served Rome was unresponsive and cold to the touch. Authorities determined Rome had reportedly been deceased and not in the wake of a recent overdose and subsequently read Garner his Miranda rights.
After being read his rights, Garner allegedly gave a statement that he and Rome were sleeping together in the tree line area of the marina. He said when he woke up Rome was not breathing or moving, although he was alive the night before at 3 a.m., according to the statement of facts. Along with Maryland State Police, the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office began an investigation into the incident.
On Sept. 30, a search warrant was executed at Wallace’s residence, where Garner had been residing at the time. While executing the search warrant, some of Rome’s clothing was reportedly found in the basement, along with the same types of sheets and bedding he was found wrapped in. Officers also found suboxone strips, items with heroin residue and other paraphernalia inside the house.
Garner reportedly told officers he was selling heroin from Wallace’s home for some time last year. He said Rome was over the house and used some of his heroin before subsequently suffering from an overdose and dying, the statement of facts allege. Garner allegedly said Wallace wanted Rome out of her house, as this was the second fatal overdose in her home and she was fearful of losing her child. Her vehicle was reportedly used to transport the body.
At his Oct. 27 plea hearing, Garner rejected the plea offers on all three cases. He is set to go to trial Jan. 23 on the body disposal charge. The first drug distribution case is scheduled to commence trial Jan. 9 with the second case’s trial beginning Feb. 23.
In February, Wallace pled guilty to contributing to a condition that renders a child in need of assistance and possession with intent to distribute controlled dangerous substance administering equipment. She also entered an Alford plea to burying/disposing of a deceased body in an unauthorized place. An Alford plea is when a defendant agrees the state has enough evidence for a conviction without making an admission of guilt.
Circuit Judge Mark Chandlee dealt Wallace the maximum sentence of eight years with all but 18 months suspended in September. He authorized work release and gave her five years of supervised probation.
Garner is currently incarcerated in the St. Mary’s County Detention Center for the alleged murder of 31-year-old Barbara Ann Sneden.
According to previous reports, Garner allegedly admitted selling heroin to Sweden, who died from an overdose last August at a Walden-Sierra location in California. Authorities awaited toxicology results from her autopsy, which showed she died from heroin intoxication.
Garner is accused of conspiring with Sneden to sell heroin, and during a police interview “he admitted to selling heroin to Sneden during the [Aug. 30] drug transaction,” according to an application for charges filed by St. Mary’s sheriff’s Cpl. Anthony Whipkey. “Sneden later consumed the heroin that was purchased from the defendant and died from an apparent drug overdose,” the charging documents state.
The alleged drug transaction happened off the halfway house’s premises, previous reports state.
St. Mary’s Sheriff’s narcotics detectives accompanied Calvert officers in the Sept. 30 raid where Garner was reportedly found to be in possession of uniquely packaged heroin. Detectives recognized this specific packaging material and technique as being used by the dealer of the heroin that caused the death of Sneden.
Garner is indicted on charges of second-degree murder, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and conspiracy to distribute narcotics in St. Mary’s County for this incident. He is scheduled for a motions hearing Feb. 5 with a potential jury trial beginning March 6.