Arrests Made in 2007 Harford Homicide

… Cousins charged in slaying at Keyser Motel in Aberdeen …

By Erika Butler of The Aegis

Posted 3/02/11Share

Two cousins have been arrested and charged with the 2007 murder, that police believe began as a botched robbery, of a man who had been living in a motel just south of Aberdeen.

The victim, Robert Donte Hemphill, 29, had been shot multiple times very early one morning, but his body wasn’t discovered until nearly midnight the same day.

He was found dead behind the slightly opened door into his room at the Keyser Motel in the first block of South Philadelphia Boulevard.

The two men charged, Mark Edmond Christian and Michael Anthony Brown, worked with Mr. Hemphill, according to Det. Sgt. Dan Staniewicz of the Harford County Sheriff’s Office.

“The two men met up with [Hemphill], one thing led to another and Mr. Hemphill ended up dead,” Staniewicz said Tuesday.

Though the killing happened on Aug. 18, 2007, police had not identified suspects until recently.

Police were called to Mr. Hemphill’s room around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 18, 2007 after someone reported that someone was burglarizing Mr. Hemphill’s room.

When police arrived, they found Mr. Hemphill dead in his room, behind the doorway.

“He couldn’t be seen from the outside. He was not in public view,” Monica Worrell, public information officer for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, said.

His door was slightly ajar, but neighbors said it wasn’t unusual for Mr. Hemphill to leave his door slightly open when he was home.

Mr. Hemphill was unresponsive, had no pulse and was in the middle of a large pool of blood, according to police.

The medical examiner determined Mr. Hemphill died of multiple gunshot wounds and his death was ruled a homicide.

Around 3 a.m. on Aug. 18, 2007, and only a short time after Mr. Hemphill is believed to have been murdered, Baltimore County Police were called to Franklin Square Hospital to investigate a shooting.

Brown told police he was shot during an apparent robbery and was suffering from a gunshot wound to his left foot.

Brown’s cousin, Christian, was also at the hospital. He said he was with Brown during the shooting/robbery.

Christian told police he shot Brown by accident in his car, and that the gun was still in it. Police seized Brown’s boot and the firearm allegedly used to shoot him.

Police determined the pair were lying to police about how and where the shooting happened.

Staniewicz said the two made up the robbery/shooting story about being in the car to cover up for the alleged murder of Mr. Hemphill.

Police said that through working with Mr. Hemphill at C&S Wholesalers in Aberdeen, Christian and Brown knew Mr. Hemphill kept his money with him and not in a bank, so they went to where Mr. Hemphill lived to rob him.

During the robbery attempt, Mr. Hemphill was shot in the back and the leg, and Brown was shot in the foot.

Brown and Christian went to Franklin Square Hospital to be treated; because it was a gunshot wound, it was reported to Baltimore County police.

The pair told Baltimore County police they were shot in the city, and city police executed a search and seizure warrant at the address where they said they were shot, but could not find evidence of a crime.

Christian and Brown then told police he had accidentally shot Brown in the foot in his car, and turned over his gun to them, Worrell said.

The two pieces of evidence in the case were being held by separate agencies — the shoe by Baltimore City and the gun by Baltimore County.

In 2007, while investigating Mr. Hemphill’s murder, police got a tip to look at Brown’s and Christian’s involvement in Mr. Hemphill’s murder. That tip did not lead to any arrests.

Three years later, in 2010, when doing a case review, detectives came across Christian’s name. He was being held in the Harford County Detention Center in connection with another crime, and detectives recognized it as one of the names given to police.

Detectives got the shoe and gun from the respective police departments, had them tested, and were able to link Christian, and then Brown, to Mr. Hemphill’s death, Worrell said.

Warrants were issued Thursday for Christian and Brown, who were arrested Monday. They are being held without bail at the Harford County Detention Center.

Christian, 23, of the 100 block of Woodland Green Way in Aberdeen, and Brown, 29, of the 3400 block of Elmora Avenue in Baltimore, are charged with first- and second-degree murder, first- and second-degree assault and use of a handgun in a violent crime.

The Aegis

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