Pr. George's man acquitted of murder on 4th try

By Ruben Castaneda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Four times in the past two years, Prince George's County prosecutors have asked a jury to convict Stephen C. Goode of killing a teenager during an alcohol-fueled fight that escalated into a shooting outside a Bladensburg nightclub in 2008.

Goode was charged with murder in the death of Ibrahim Kolawole Afolabi, 19, in the parking lot behind the Crossroads about 2:30 a.m. May 29, 2008.

Three juries were unable to reach a verdict, and the judge declared a mistrial each time.

On Friday, after deliberating for about nine hours over three days, the fourth jury reached a decision: It acquitted Goode of first- and second-degree murder. After spending the past 2 1/2 years in jail, Goode, 26, was freed.

After he left the Upper Marlboro jail, Goode said, he hugged his three young children, his fiancee and his father. The group then went to Olive Garden at Bowie Town Center for a celebratory dinner.

On Tuesday, Goode said the acquittal "was kind of expected. I was in a numb state of mind. I was relying on the power of the Lord."

Goode's attorney, Antoini M. Jones, said the defense fared better with each trial. The jury in the first trial, in June 2009, voted 10-2 for conviction, Jones said. The jury in the second trial, in September 2009, voted 9-3 for conviction, he said. In March, the third jury was tied 6-6, Jones said.

Prosecutors offered to let Goode plead guilty to second-degree murder and a handgun violation.

The murder plea would have carried a 25-year prison sentence, and the handgun charge has a mandatory five-year term. They would have been served concurrently or consecutively, depending on the judge's decision, Jones said.

Goode would have considered pleading guilty to involuntary manslaughter, with a 10-year prison sentence, but the state never offered, Jones said. "I thought the state could have used all this time and effort on another case in which they were more likely to prevail," Jones said.

Goode did not testify at any of the trials.

Ramon Korionoff, a spokesman for State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, said: "Murder trials are difficult and complex. Retrials are especially hard. No matter the difficulty, though, we must pursue justice, and that is what we did in this case."

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