A Baileys Crossroads man was convicted by a Fairtax County jury last night of second-degree murder in a fatal shooting that grew out of a crap game.
The Circuit Court jury set the punishment for Ronald W. Hall, 27, at 15 years in prison for the slaying of Thomas L. White. 24 in September 1976. Hall is already serving a three-years sentence imposed in June on a knifing conviction.
The jury returned its verdict after deliberating for 2 1/2 hours.
Hall had testified that he shot White in self-defense. "He pointed a gun at me and clicked the trigger." Hall testified, "and I started shooting." White and Hall, according to evidence presented at the trial, had engaged in a "shootout" the month before White's death, but no one was injured in that incident.,
Hall testified that he took the 45 caliber pistol that he claimed White had pointed at him and threw it into the Potomac River. Police said they have not found the gun, and Commonwealth's Attorney Robert F. Horan yesterday called Hall's story about the gun "a lie."
Two prosecution witnesses testified that they saw Hall shoot White as White ran away.
One of the witnesses, Robert Dean, 57, who said he frequents a long running crap game on Moncure Avenue where the shooting occurred, refused at first yesterday to testify, saying he was afraid of the consequences.
When the jury was ushered out of the courtroom and Dean was asked by Judge Thomas J. Middleton why he would not testify, Dean said, "Because I'm a dead man."
Dean later testified after Middleton threatened him with contempt charges.
A 14-year-old boy, who also testified that he saw Hall shoot the unarmed and fleeing victim, told the judge yesterday that he too was afraid for his life.
Hall's defense attorney, Ian Rodway, told the jury yesterday that his client "is no saint, never has been and never will be."
Rodway asked the jury to judge Hall but according to the values of the society in which Hall moved. Rodway called the society "as foreign (to thejury) as Afghanistar."