Candy box links one sus­pect to man slain in Mont­gomery park

The Washington Post Sunday - - LOCAL OPINIONS - BY DAN MORSE dan.morse@wash­ Keith L. Alexan­der con­trib­uted to this re­port.

Should the al­le­ga­tions against Earl Junius Ben­nette prove true — po­lice as­serted Satur­day that he and an as­so­ciate killed a 22year-old man in a Mont­gomery County park this month — Ben­nette surely will re­gret that box of Mike and Ike candy.

The box was found near the body of the vic­tim. De­tec­tives say fin­ger­prints on the box matched Ben­nette’s, ac­cord­ing to charg­ing doc­u­ments in the case. Other ev­i­dence im­pli­cat­ing Ben­nette in­cluded cell­phone con­tact with the vic­tim and in­for­ma­tion from four peo­ple, at least one of whom didn’t pro­vide his or her name to de­tec­tives, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ments. Ben­nette, 24, was ar­rested Fri­day in Sil­ver Spring. He was be­ing held in the county jail Satur­day on no-bond sta­tus. He has been charged with first-de­gree mur­der and armed rob­bery counts, as has Shante Glad­den, 22, ac­cord­ing to po­lice. Glad­den was ar­rested in the Dis­trict.

It was un­clear whether Ben­nette has re­tained an at­tor­ney. An at­tor­ney listed in court records for Glad­den could not be reached.

In ar­rest records, de­tec­tives de­scribed the killing as dru­gre­lated. The vic­tim, Gar­rett Alexan­der McClees, was known to sell mar­i­juana where he was killed: Edge­wood Neigh­bor­hood Park, along Robey Road, in the county’s Briggs Chaney area, ac­cord­ing to po­lice. At the scene, de­tec­tives also found pack­ag­ing with a “pun­gent” smell of mar­i­juana, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, but no mar­i­juana.

Shortly be­fore 5 p.m. on Oct. 8, 911 op­er­a­tors re­ceived mul­ti­ple calls about sounds of gun­shots in the park. Of­fi­cers ar­rived and found McClees with a gun­shot wound to the torso. They could not find any eye­wit­nesses, ac­cord­ing to charg­ing doc­u­ments.

Four hours af­ter the slay­ing, po­lice re­ceived a tip stat­ing that “EJ” and an­other man were present dur­ing the homi­cide. De­tec­tives iden­ti­fied “EJ” as Earl Junius Ben­nette us­ing law en­force­ment data­bases. The caller would not pro­vide a name or phone num­ber, po­lice said.

The same tipster called twice more, say­ing that “EJ” took the vic­tim’s back­pack and that an­other man “came out of the bushes and shot the vic­tim,” ac­cord­ing to charg­ing doc­u­ments.

An­other wit­ness, who lives near the park, told po­lice of see­ing two men walk­ing to­ward the park just be­fore gun­fire erupted. That wit­ness picked Ben­nette out of a photo ar­ray, ac­cord­ing to po­lice.

Charg­ing doc­u­ments do not spell out how far away the box of candy was from the vic­tim. The fin­ger­prints were lifted by a crime scene tech­ni­cian on Oct. 14, ac­cord­ing to po­lice, and matched later that day to Ben­nette’s, which were on file.

Ac­cord­ing to cell­phone records, Ben­nette con­tacted the vic­tim at 4:40 p.m. and his co-de­fen­dant at 4:42 p.m. A minute later, author­i­ties started re­ceiv­ing re­ports of gun­shots in the park.



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