An Aberdeen man was sentenced Monday to life in prison plus 30 years for the 2007 murder at an Aberdeen motel of his co-worker, the final step in a “cold case” solved more than three years after the slaying.
Mark E. Christian, 24, was found guilty earlier this year of the Aug. 18, 2007 murder of Robert D. Hemphill, 26, at the Keyser Motel in Aberdeen. In addition to the life sentence for first-degree murder, he was also sentenced to 20 years for use of a handgun in a violent crime felony, and 10 years for conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Under the terms of his sentence, Christian is not eligible for parole until he has served half of the sentence, according to Harford County State’s Attorney Joseph Cassilly.
Christian’s accomplice in the murder, Michael A. Brown, 29, of Baltimore, is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday. Like Christian, he faces charges of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Christian and Brown were arrested Feb. 28, 2011, three and a half years after the murder of Hemphill, who worked with the pair at a local wholesale store.
According to a Sheriff’s Office release last year, Hemphill was known to keep his money in cash on his person. Investigators determined that Christian and Brown attempted to rob Hemphill at the motel in the early morning hours of Aug. 18, 2007, shooting him during the struggle.
Police found Hemphill hours later, at approximately 11:36 p.m., when deputies were called to the motel to check on his well-being. Hemphill was found lying on the floor of his ransacked motel room, shot in the back and leg.
Later investigation found that, following the robbery, Brown arrived at Franklin Square Hospital in Baltimore County, suffering from a gunshot wound to the foot. Brown told Baltimore County investigators that he had been shot during a robbery in Baltimore City, but detectives from both agencies proved his story false. Christian then admitted to having accidentally shot Brown, and his gun, along with Brown’s clothes, were submitted as evidence in the incident.
According to the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, in the fall of 2010 agency detectives were investigating Christian’s role in a crime committed earlier that spring when they connected Christian’s name as a suspect in the 2007 Hemphill murder. Citing “exceptional interagency cooperation” from Baltimore City and Baltimore County police, Sheriff’s Office detectives said they were able to obtain forensic evidence linking Christian and Brown to the homicide.
In two separate trials, jurors found Christian guilty of first-degree murder and the two other charges on March 1, and found Brown guilty March 21 of first-degree murder, attempted armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.
Brown is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday at 9 a.m. in Harford County Circuit Court.