Guilty Plea in Deputies' Slayings

By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 25, 2007

An Adelphi man pleaded guilty yesterday in the killings of two Prince George's County sheriff's deputies and was sentenced to 30 years in prison, an outcome that left relatives of the slain deputies bitterly disappointed.

James R. Logan, who shot the deputies in August 2002 as they tried to take him into custody for a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, pleaded guilty in Upper Marlboro to two counts of second-degree murder and was sentenced to the maximum allowable, with the possibility of parole, under the terms of a plea agreement.

Logan shot deputies Elizabeth L. Magruder, 30, and James V. Arnaud, 53, on Aug. 29, 2002, with a 9mm pistol he had hidden in a bedroom in his parents' home in Adelphi. The fatal shootings were the first in the line of duty for the sheriff's department.

Relatives of both deputies called the sentence unjust. "It's been a long five years," said Arnaud's widow, Theresa. "I'm very disappointed that he didn't get life, or 50 years or 100 years."

Shortly before Circuit Court Judge E. Allen Shepherd handed down the sentence, Derwinn Magruder, the widower of the other slain deputy, told the judge that he, too, was disappointed. "It's hard coming up in here," he said. "It's hard looking at this murderer."

Logan, 29, and State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey (D) reached a plea agreement after a jury deadlocked at Logan's last trial, in June, and Shepherd declared a mistrial. That jury was not permitted to view a videotaped confession, one that an appeals court has said was taken improperly, in which Logan said of the deputies: "I wanted to annihilate them. I couldn't leave them alive."

At the brief hearing yesterday, Logan initially stammered out his guilty plea, saying he shot the deputies "without malice." He then consulted with his attorney and changed his tone, admitting to the killings unconditionally. He said he hoped the families would one day forgive him.

"I pray to God almighty to heal me of my imperfections," Logan said.

He was convicted at his first trial, in 2003, and sentenced to 100 years in prison, but the convictions were reversed on appeal. The state Court of Appeals held in 2006 that Logan had not been advised of his rights properly before he gave the statement.

At trial in 2003, Logan's attorneys acknowledged that he killed the deputies but said that he should be acquitted by reason of insanity because he was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia and was beset by delusions. Prosecutors said Logan created his mental health problems by using crack cocaine and marijuana and should be held legally responsible for the shootings.

Hours before the killings, Logan's wife petitioned a court for the emergency psychiatric evaluation, saying he claimed to be hearing messages from God and thought "death is imminent." Valencia Flood Logan wrote that her husband, a father of two, was "extremely paranoid" and that his "condition is worsening each day."

Yesterday, Ivey said he, too, was disappointed with the outcome. He said the appellate court's decision to throw out Logan's confession weakened the prosecution's case and left him with few options.

"Carving back the evidence we had to present made it hard," Ivey said. "It's not a perfect system, and I think today is a big reminder of that."

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