The first of five men charged in October's robbery and slayings at Stoney's restaurant in Prince George's County was sentenced yesterday to 130 years for his involvement in the shooting that left two dead and two wounded.
Judge Vincent A. Femia sentenced James W. Edmonds, 26, one of two armed men who entered the Clinton restaurant on Oct. 11, to the maximum sentences for second-degree murder, attempted murder and armed robbery, with the terms to be served consecutively.
Edmonds was sentenced to an additional 130 years, to be served concurrently, for possession of a deadly weapon, malicious shooting, attempted robbery with a deadly weapon and armed robbery.
"The facts of this case scream out," Femia said, while issuing his sentence. "This is the just punishment."
Edmonds, who rolled his head and eyes in disbelief, will be eligible for parole after serving 25 percent, or 32.5 years, of his sentence.
The shooting was called "one of the most outrageous crimes committed in the county" in months by prosecutor Deborah Johnston.
Edmonds and another man accosted Arnold Batson, 27, the restaurant's cook, outside the restaurant about 12:30 a.m. after it had closed. The men, both armed with semiautomatic handguns, led Batson back into the store.
Inside, police said, the other man made Batson, restaurant owner Allan Stone, manager Brian Shelley and police Detective Robert McDaniel, off-duty at the time, lie on the floor near the bar. While Edmonds forced an employee to open the restaurant's safe, the gunman opened fire, killing Batson and Shelley, and wounding Stone and McDaniel. Edmonds has asserted that Damon Bowie, 19, was the gunman. His trial is to start Aug. 20.
Although not accused of firing a shot, Edmonds and three other suspects awaiting trial for participating in the holdup were each charged with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder under a Maryland law that holds all participants responsible if one of them commits a killing during a robbery.
Edmonds was identified by three witnesses, including McDaniel and Stone, as one of the holdup men who entered the restaurant that night.
But during his trial last month, one juror, according to televised reports, refused to convict Edmonds on a premeditated first-degree murder count because Edmonds did not shoot any of the victims. First-degree murder carries a sentence of 60 years. The jury acquitted Edmonds of first-degree murder and deemed the crime to be second-degree, or unpremeditated, murder, carrying a 30-year sentence.
Gary Ward, Edmonds's attorney, asked for lenience because Edmonds did not shoot the victims. But Judge Femia declined to accept the argument, saying, "Mr. Edmonds is as guilty as if he had pulled the trigger."
After the sentencing, Ward called the punishment "extremely stiff" and said the case would most likely be appealed.
Bowie and the three other suspects in the case -- Christian N. Bowie, 21, Derrel William Thomas, 19, and Shaun Markell Harris, 17 -- are being held at the Prince George's County Correctional Center pending trial.