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Slain man’s father says he lost ‘everything’

Antonio Nathaniel Pollard Jr.’s father came from his Washington, D.C., area home to testify Monday in a St. Mary’s courtroom that he once thought his son would be better off living in Southern Maryland, where he wound up shot dead.

“My son was everything to me,” Antonio N. Pollard Sr. said from the witness stand as he looked toward Andrew Allen Carter, who was in court to be sentenced on his guilty plea to second-degree murder from the August 2010 killing at a Lexington Park apartment.

“A coward has taken my child from me, over little or nothing,” Pollard said of Carter, who sat at the defense table in front of where a girlfriend sat with Carter’s own child.

“His little baby means nothing to me,” Pollard continued. “I have become this way from that coward’s act.”

Pollard said another child also will have to grow up without a father.

“My grandson will never know his father,” Pollard said. “He was born on his father’s birthday. I’m going to have to explain to my grandchild what happened to his father.”

Pollard said that his 22-year-old son worked for a service employed at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, after earlier progressing from a Job Corps program to Prince George’s Community College.

“He was headed in the correct direction,” according to Pollard, who grew up in Northeast Washington and said he wanted a better life for his son.

“I didn’t want that for my son,” Pollard said, and he concurred with his son’s desire to live with his mother. “I thought that would be the best thing for him,” the slain man’s father said. “I was very proud of him. This was not a throwaway child.”

Pollard said his own life was affected in a positive way by his son’s success.

“My son taught me everything, how to be a loving person, how to be a caring person,” the father said. “I would have gladly taken that bullet for him, ... because he gave me a new life. With him gone, it’s like everything was taken away from me. I know what it is to wish you were dead.”

Pollard said to Circuit Judge Graydon S. McKee, a retired jurist from Prince George’s County, “It could be your child. When you have people like that out in society, nobody is safe. You never know where cowards be, lurking.”

Before he left the witness stand, Pollard looked back again toward Carter and said, “I want you to know as you sleep that all I’m thinking about is revenge.”

Brenda Michelle Washington Chase, the slain man’s mother, said that when she last saw her son shortly before his death, he told her “I love you,” as he always did, as he got out of her car.

“When you look around this courtroom,” she said, “there is just so much pain on both sides. That pain came from Andrew Carter. He had a choice. His choice was to kill my son.”

As he prepared to sentence Carter to 30 years in prison, the judge said, “It’s not just the victim that’s lost. It’s almost always the convicted person who committed the act, also, [and] the families on both sides.”

Angry outbursts in and outside of a St. Mary’s courtroom stirred police into action Monday as a judge imposed a 30-year prison sentence for the second-degree murder in Lexington Park of a man who worked at St. Mary’s College.

Andrew Allen Carter, who earlier pleaded guilty to the homicide charge, asked for forgiveness for the August 2010 shooting of Antonio Nathaniel Pollard Jr., but neither the judge, a prosecutor nor Pollard’s family saw any reason for giving Carter anything less than the maximum penalty.

Retired Prince George’s Circuit Judge Graydon S. McKee said the “terrible situation” leading to Pollard’s death at an apartment off Lexwood Court was compounded by a series of prior offenses by Carter, a 26-year-old California resident, that date back to his childhood, and the lack of any improvement in his conduct.

“It’s one of the most disturbing [presentence] investigations I’ve ever read,” the judge said. “Rehabilitation probably is not likely.”

At the onset of the hearing, the slain man’s father turned toward Carter and said, “You’re going to get it. Believe it,” while walking toward the witness stand to make a victim impact statement. A series of blunt, loud comments between people seated on opposite sides of the courtroom ensued, followed by an approach from law officers and a warning from the judge that the anyone disrupting the hearing would be ordered to leave the courtroom and could be jailed for contempt.

“I ask you please to control your temper,” McKee said.

Antonio N. Pollard Sr. repeatedly referred to his son’s killer as a “coward” and sat looking at Carter while on the witness stand, but Pollard eventually obeyed McKee’s admonition to direct his comments to the judge as to what would be the appropriate punishment for Carter.

“What you won’t do, I will,” Pollard told the judge. “And that’s a promise.”

After the hearing, Pollard and other family members left the courtroom and were walking down a hall toward the state’s attorney’s office when Carter’s supporters went by, and another verbal exchange erupted. St. Mary’s sheriff’s deputies placed themselves between the two groups, as they tried to maintain peace and urge Pollard to enter the prosecutors’ office.

“What peace can I get?” Pollard repeatedly asked before complying with the officers’ request. A sheriff’s deputy later said that Pollard and other family members calmly left the courthouse after their post-hearing meeting with Assistant State’s Attorney Daniel White.

White said during the court proceeding that Carter’s legal entanglements go back to when he was 12 years old, and that at the time of the murder, he was on probation for robbing a 79-year-old woman on the Eastern Shore. The prosecutor said that Carter assaulted a correctional officer while in pretrial custody.

Early on the morning of Aug. 28, 2010, White said, Antonio Pollard Jr., a 22-year-old Lexington Park resident who worked for a food service at the college, was “lured” to the apartment where he was shot, by a call from a woman who left there with her child shortly after he arrived.

Carter “planned to arm himself” before the encounter, where he fired the gunshot killing Pollard, the prosecutor said, “and then we have the escape to Baltimore,” where Carter eventually was arrested.

Carter said in court Monday that the day of the shooting was the “worst day of my life.”

“I sincerely apologize for your loss. All I can do is ask for forgiveness,” Carter said, but he added that he was fearful of Pollard and the men accompanying him during their nighttime arrival at the apartment.

“These other guys had a part that led up to this,” Carter said. “I was getting phone calls from people I didn’t even know, making death threats toward me. I knew these guys didn’t come over there to talk. To this day, I believe if I had stayed, I would have been beaten and that gun would have been turned against me.”

The prosecutor said during Carter’s plea hearing last fall that the woman calling Pollard to her apartment was in the middle of a romantic triangle, involving Carter and another man. On Monday, Carter also noted the woman’s role in the matter.

“I wasn’t out looking to hurt Antonio,” he said. “Me and Antonio got dragged into the problem.”

Jason Kobin, Carter’s lawyer, said that his client was getting ready to go to bed at the apartment when the five people arrived. “They didn’t bring a DVD and popcorn,” the lawyer said. “They were there to harm him.”

James Brian Sheehan, 35, of Lexington Park, is scheduled to appear in court this Friday for docket call on an indictment charging him with being an accessory after the fact to the murder. Initial district court charging papers alleged that Sheehan told Carter after the shooting that the weapon had been hidden, and told Carter not to worry.