- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A judge has reduced a St. Mary’s man’s sentence of life in prison, plus 22 years, for the 2002 shooting death of a motorist outside a pawn shop to an active 40-year term, with concurrent sentences for reckless endangerment and a handgun charge.
Martin Charles Abell Sr. arrived in St. Mary’s Circuit Court last month in a wheelchair for a hearing on his motion for reducing his sentence in a case where he has maintained he was wrongfully convicted.
Abell, now 61, has served close to 12 years in custody since his arrest.
Outside the pawn shop on Great Mills Road in 2002, Abell’s son was thrown onto the road as he reached into a car that 22-year-old Matthew Shawn Jones was backing out of the business’ parking lot. Abell came out of the shop with a revolver, and he told jurors that he fired two shots — one over the car to scare the driver, and the other at the vehicle to “throw some glass at him.”
The second shot struck Jones in the head, jurors were told at Abell’s trial, and Jones died at a hospital 10 days later.
Matthew Lynn, Abell’s lawyer at last month’s hearing, said that his client has had “several heart attacks,” needs bypass surgery, suffers from diabetes and has been in the wheelchair for a year.
“The petitioner is remorseful,” Lynn said. “He’s sorry for the compulsive [actions] ... which resulted in the death of Mr. Jones.”
“We couldn’t get those words out of his mouth,” St. Mary’s Deputy State’s Attorney Theodore Weiner responded.
“I’m sorry the boy got killed,” Abell said.
“Are you sorry you killed him?” the prosecutor asked, before visiting Prince George’s Circuit Judge Beverly J. Woodard abruptly stopped the inquiry, noting that Abell should not be subjected to questioning as the lawyers made their arguments.
“He’s expressed no remorse,” Weiner said, adding that there was little to dispute about what happened on the busy highway. “There’s no mystery here. There’s not even a mystery as to what happened. He took a shooter’s stance on the second shot.”
Woodard questioned the prosecutor on whether the penalty for the gun charge had to be served consecutively to the murder sentence, and they also discussed whether a reckless-endangerment conviction from the first shot required a consecutive sentence.
“We have to take into account what has occurred since the incarceration,” the judge said, adding that any reduction “just makes him eligible for parole. This just gives you a possibility to get out, not a guarantee. No one can do life plus 22. I am going to modify it.”
The judge added, “Really, you’re not a danger to the community anymore.”
Colleen Jones, the slain man’s mother, said last week that Abell now will be eligible for parole in eight years, because of the judge’s decision received last Thursday at the courthouse in Leonardtown.
“I’m very upset about it. I don’t think the judge was being fair [or] paying attention. She never acknowledged me being there” in court, Jones said. “As long as I’m alive, if he does have a parole hearing, I’ll be there.”