The man who police said shot five people at an Edgewood business, three fatally, before shooting a sixth person later that morning in Wilmington, Del. will be tried in that state first, Harford County officials said Monday.
At a midday press conference, Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly said that Radee Labeeb Prince, 37, will stand trial in Delaware for attempted first degree murder for the shooting of a man at a car dealership on Wednesday. That incident came hours after he shot five people at Advanced Granite Solutions in Edgewood.
Cassilly said that Prince faces a maximum sentence of life in prison for his crime in Delaware, a state which does not have the option of parole.
Prince could stand trial in Delaware in approximately six months, Cassilly estimated, adding that even if Prince is found guilty there, his office would “probably” bring Prince back to Maryland to face trial in this state as well.
He expressed frustration with the lack of more severe penalties in Maryland for an attack which killed three people and critically injured two others. According to Harford County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Cristie Kahler, Wednesday’s incident is the largest mass shooting event in county history.
“For all that carnage, the possible sentence is life in prison,” Cassilly said. “We can ask the court to make it life in prison without the possibility of parole. But one, that’s still a request, and two, my concern is that the General Assembly, ever since the repeal of the death penalty…has done everything they can to attack long prison sentences, and I’m not sure life without parole will still be there as this defendant serves his sentence.”
At a press conference hours after the shooting, Wilmington Police Chief Robert Tracy said Prince has a substantial criminal history in Delaware, including 42 arrests, 15 felony convictions and four misdemeanor convictions.
“I can only tell you how frustrat[ing] it is for me a prosecutor to feel that the justice system does not have a proportional penalty for three murders and two attempted murders, that is any greater than our sister state has for one attempted first degree murder,” he added.
State Sen. Bob Cassilly, the state’s attorney’s younger brother, was also present at the press conference, and said he intends to introduce what he termed a “targeted capital punishment bill” during the General Assembly session early next year. Cassilly, who is a member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, said Maryland needs a more appropriate punishment for those willing to commit multiple severe crimes.
“There’s got to be a higher answering, there’s got to be a penalty that says, ‘Look, you’ve killed, now it can actually get a whole lot worse from this, you’ve raped, it can get a whole lot worse from this, because we will hold your life over your head,'” he said.
Cassilly’s proposed method of execution under his proposed bill would be a mixture of heroin and fentanyl, explaining that his proposed method makes ironic use of the ongoing public health crisis of opioid overdoses as an answer to concerns that executions could be painful to those convicted.
“The lead opposition to the death penalty in the past has been the terrible pain it supposedly puts the accused through,” he said. “What we’ve seen is that a mix of heroin and fentanyl obviously must not be too painful, because we’ve seen people pumped up with [emergency overdose treatment] Narcan, people on the verge of death, probably practically dead, we pump them with Narcan, they turn back around and they want to do it [substance use] again. It’s just hard to imagine that that can be such a painful death, otherwise we wouldn’t see this happening repeatedly…must be an okay way to go, I suppose.”
Harford County is on pace to see a record number of heroin-related overdoses this year, with more than 350 reported overdoses and more than 60 fatalities so far this year. Joseph Cassilly added that the use of the drug pairing in criminal executions might underline the danger the two drugs pose to the public.
Senior Assistant State’s Attorney David Ryden said that members of the State’s Attorney’s Office and law enforcement officials met with the families and co-workers of the victims at Advanced Granite Solutions earlier in the morning.
“We were able to answer some of their questions, which you can imagine are many, and get them connected to the many agencies involved in this prosecution and victim resources as they begin the long journey moving forward,” Ryden said.
“My office was able to see for the first time the place of unspeakable evil and death that will impact this community for a long time, but it was also a morning of healing for the employees who gathered to support one another as they face unanswered questions, tears, and frustration on why this happened and how they will continue to move forward.”