- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
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A Charles County judge sentenced a Waldorf man to seven and a half years in prison Friday after he entered a plea to killing Waldorf resident Torris Powell Jr. a year earlier.
Marsellis Laron Ledwell, 24, entered an Alford plea to manslaughter as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors. He originally had been charged with second-degree murder after turning himself in to police last January.
An Alford plea acknowledges that prosecutors have enough evidence to secure a conviction but does not admit guilt.
Prince George’s County police found Powell dead inside a parked car in the 13200 block of Old Marlboro Pike in Upper Marlboro on Jan. 21, 2012.
Medical examiners ruled Powell’s death a homicide as a result of a blunt force trauma. Prince George’s investigators determined Powell had been in a fight in Waldorf the evening prior to when his body was found and contacted the Charles County Sheriff’s Office.
Charles detectives concluded Powell’s fight had been with Ledwell, who turned himself in Jan. 25 after the sheriff’s office obtained a warrant for his arrest.
“What he did was commit several assaults on Torris Powell,” Charles County Assistant State’s Attorney Francis J. Granados said at Ledwell’s sentencing hearing.
Granados said Ledwell repeatedly had slapped and punched Powell, who was “helpless” due to a blood-alcohol level that was three times the legal limit.
“We don’t think it was his intention to kill Torris Powell,” but to embarrass Powell and exact revenge for some previous slight, Granados said, adding that Ledwell bragged about his treatment of Powell to friends and on Facebook.
“Few acts that I’ve seen were as malicious as what I’ve seen in this case,” Granados said.
Fort Washington attorney Michael D. Lovelace said that Powell’s “severe internal injuries” could not have been caused by Ledwell’s slaps and punches. He suggested that another man, whom Powell saw after Ledwell the night he was killed, “got away with murder,” a theory which Ledwell’s family members showed support for.
“He asks me to extend his condolences to the Powell family, and to his own family,” Lovelace said.
“I’m just truly sorry for their loss. Truly sorry,” Ledwell said. “I’m accepting responsibility for my actions.”
Born in Kentucky in June 1970, Powell served in the Persian Gulf War and lived in New Jersey for a time before relocating with his fiancee to Waldorf in the summer of 2011, Granados said.
Five members of Powell’s family attended the hearing, including his parents and brother, Terry.
“He was a family man” with three sons and a daughter,” Torris Powell Sr. said while holding a picture of his son. While facing Ledwell, he added that he was grateful for the chance to speak at the hearing because his son “can’t speak for himself.”
“I still have trouble waking up in the morning, believing that he’s dead,” Torris Powell Sr. said. “He was a precious gift to everyone that knew him.”
While members of Ledwell’s family sat in the courtroom sobbing, Torris Powell Sr. also said he prayed that Ledwell “get saved, change up, change his life, do something good with his life.”
Circuit Judge Helen I. Harrington expressed sympathy for and admiration of Powell’s family.
“Your loss is huge. There is no way anyone can turn back the clock and make this better,” she said. “… I am in awe of your spirit of forgiveness. … You are amazing people.”
Harrington sentenced Ledwell to 10 years in prison with all but seven years and six months suspended, along with five years of supervised probation.
“The best thing you can do for the Powell family is to make your life count for something,” she told Ledwell. “You have the opportunity to put your life on a better track. That’s something we can’t give to Torris Powell.”