Over­dose mur­der sus­pect placed on house ar­rest

Lawyer calls sec­ond-de­gree homi­cide al­le­ga­tion in woman’s Au­gust opi­oid death ‘po­lit­i­cally based’

The Enterprise - - Front Page - By JOHN WHARTON jwhar­ton@somd­news.com Twit­ter: @JohnEn­tNews

A judge granted a St. Mary’s man re­lease from jail on Tues­day to be on house ar­rest at his par­ents’ home as he awaits fur­ther court pro­ceed­ings on a charge of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der from a drug-over­dose in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Prose­cu­tors pub­li­cally an­nounced last month the re­cent fil­ing of homi­cide charges against six peo­ple, in­clud­ing 30-year-old Ge­of­frey Wal­ter Uhall, who also is ac­cused of dis­tribut­ing heroin and fen­tanyl in Lex­ing­ton Park last April in con­nec­tion with the death of Colleen Marie Cord. Uhall orig­i­nally was jailed with­out bond after his ar­rest in early Au­gust.

“The charge of sec­ond-de­gree mur­der is se­verely over­reach­ing,” James E. Farmer, Uhall’s lawyer, said Tues­day in court. “It is more po­lit­i­cally based,” the lawyer ar­gued, than based on law.

St. Mary’s Cir­cuit Judge David W. Dens­ford urged Farmer to not delve into prose­cu­tors’ mo­ti­va­tion in the mat­ter. The lawyer said that their fo­cus was mis­di­rected to­ward his client in­stead of the per­son who sold the drugs to Cord and Uhall.

“This is not the ap­pro­pri­ate per­son to fo­cus on,” Farmer said of his client. “They go to­gether to the dealer. [Uhall] snorts some of this heroin him­self … [after] she gave him money to get drugs that they both used to­gether.”

Uhall re­ceived $40 from the woman, and added $40 of his own money to make the pur­chase, the lawyer said, re­peat­edly con­test­ing any al­le­ga­tion that Uhall is a drug dealer or dis­trib­u­tor.

“He adds money to it, and goes up and gets this quan­tity of pow­der heroin. We be­lieve she got fen­tanyl from some­one else,” Farmer said in ref­er­ence to the more lethal syn­thetic opi­oid.

St. Mary’s State’s At­tor­ney Richard Fritz (R) coun­tered that Uhall’s con­duct amounted to be­ing a drug dis­trib­u­tor.

“I don’t care if it’s for money or for fun,” the pros­e­cu­tor said. “That is a crime.”

Fritz also said that Uhall de­stroyed a cell­phone to con­ceal ev­i­dence of the trans­ac­tion, and that a search of Uhall’s pos­ses­sions re­vealed ev­i­dence of a “cut­ting agent,” a sub­stance mixed with pur- chased drugs to in­crease their weight be­fore re­selling them.

“How many peo­ple have we saved as a re­sult of him be­ing in jail?” the pros­e­cu­tor asked.

In re­but­tal, Farmer said the al­leged cut­ting agent was not at the home of Uhall’s par­ents, where he’ll now be stay­ing, and the lawyer re­it­er­ated that fen­tanyl was not in the drugs that his client pur­chased and used with the woman.

“He’s shocked if what he took killed this woman,” the lawyer said.

Dens­ford in­quired if Uhall’s par­ents un­der­stood their re­spon­si­bil­ity if their son was re­leased to their home.

“I wel­come the op­por­tu­nity to squeal on my own son,” Uhall’s fa­ther replied.

The judge noted that the sus­pect had spent 12 days in in­pa­tient drug treat­ment, be­fore his ar­rest and after a much longer pe­riod of drug abuse.

“You are a dan­ger to the com­mu­nity, with a five-year habit, and you’re a flight risk,” Dens­ford said, “but it’s min­i­mal.”

The judge or­dered that Uhall be on elec­tronic mon­i­tor­ing, with work-re­lease priv­i­leges, and un­der pre­trial su­per­vi­sion in­clud­ing mul­ti­ple uri­nal­y­sis tests and check­ins with author­i­ties each week un­til his trial.

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