Court filings shed light on suspect’s arrest in 2021 shooting of Navy mom in Annapolis
The Capital April 17, 2022
ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Tribune News Service) — Within hours of the shooting death of Michelle Cummings last June, Annapolis police had set out to capture their primary suspect in the incident and placed him behind bars before midnight the same day, according to court records.
Police did not file charges in the shooting or identify the suspect, Angelo Harrod, now 30, until weeks after they had arrested him on June 29 in a testy encounter at a convenience store on Forest Drive, near a house where they believed he had been staying in the weeks leading up to the shooting, according to police affidavits made public in circuit court this year.
The affidavits for search warrants, which were filed publicly by prosecutors as lawyers argue whether certain evidence is to be admitted at Harrod’s trial this winter, paint a picture of the days before and after the fatal shooting of Michelle Cummings, who was in town to drop off her son, Leonard “Trey” Cummings, at the Naval Academy for Induction Day.
Police say Harrod fired a volley of shots intended for a man and a woman who were sitting in a vehicle near a dead-end on Pleasant Street. But instead, the projectiles crossed through a patch of woods toward the patio of The Graduate Hotel, where Cummings was struck and killed early in the morning of June 29.
Harrod is charged with first-degree murder in Cummings’ death. He is also charged with attempted first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit murder in regard to the two people who police say he was aiming for but missed.
The affidavits take note of several other people connected to the incident: they say another person accompanied Harrod that night “before, during and after the shooting,” and a woman who resides on Pleasant Street “served as [Harrod’s] eyes on the street before and after the homicide.”
After the shooting, police searched the Robinwood house of another woman, who they said sheltered Harrod after he had escaped house arrest at his mother’s home last May, the affidavits say. On Friday, Harrod pleaded guilty to a count of second-degree escape, part of an agreement with prosecutors to serve up to six years for his recent non-homicide cases. He also pleaded to misdemeanor counts of second-degree assault and illegal possession of a firearm for other incidents from last year.
The affidavits say Harrod had called a cabdriver just before the June 29 shooting. The driver told police he picked up two people from near the Graduate Hotel scene, dropping them off at separate locations: one on Monument Street, and one in the Robinwood community.
After police watched surveillance footage from the shooting, a detective identified Harrod as the shooter, recognizing him from previous interactions. Armed with arrest warrants from previous, unrelated incidents, police set out to find Harrod at locations he “may frequent,” and found him at a gas station near Robinwood, the affidavits say.
The attempt to arrest Harrod, just under 24 hours after the shooting, led to a loud struggle and attracted a crowd of people. Harrod, meanwhile, was “making every effort to pass” a cellphone in his possession to members of the group. He was arrested and charged with additional offenses related to the struggle, and on Friday, Harrod received a time-served sentence for that incident after entering an Alford plea to second-degree assault. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt, but an acknowledgment that prosecutors have enough evidence to support a conviction.
Detectives also have been monitoring Harrod’s contacts from the jail, with the filings stating investigators listened to a jail call in which he and the Robinwood resident he had been staying with were “conspiring and fabricating an alibi to cover Harrod’s time during the homicide.”
In addition to trying to prevent prosecutors from using those jail calls, Harrod’s attorneys are fighting to suppress evidence recovered from the execution of the search warrants, which focused on evidence related to the homicide obtained at the Tyler Avenue house where Harrod had been staying, and evidence from his phone.
Howard Cardin, one of Harrod’s defense attorneys, wrote in court filings that police got a warrant for the phone under false pretenses as they linked it to possible narcotics distribution rather than the homicide, just after Harrod was arrested. Days later, they applied for another warrant for the phone, this time in connection to the shooting.
“The affiants in these warrants fabricated the events” of Harrod’s arrest, Cardin wrote, noting that police stated they had been in the area and made a “routine check” to see if Harrod had open arrest warrants, when in reality police were there to find Harrod.
Those arguments are scheduled to be heard in coming months in a series of hearings leading up to Harrod’s trial, which is set to last 16 days in November and December. Prosecutors have requested a “jury view,” a physical tour of the crime scene for jurors. Harrod’s lawyers have agreed to that, and asked that Harrod remain unshackled.
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