A Montgomery County jury convicted a former deputy U.S. marshal yesterday of voluntary manslaughter for shooting a 20-year-old Navy seaman after a traffic dispute on Rockville Pike.
Arthur L. Lloyd, 54, also was convicted of reckless endangerment and the use of a handgun during a crime of violence. He faces a maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.
In finding Lloyd guilty of manslaughter, jurors rejected in part the prosecution theory that Lloyd, a 28-year veteran of the U.S. Marshals Service, deliberately and with premeditation shot Ryan T. Stowers.
The jurors could have convicted Lloyd of first- or second-degree murder. The manslaughter conviction indicates that they determined that he acted in what he believed was self-defense. But it was what Maryland law refers to as "imperfect self-defense," meaning that although Lloyd believed he had to shoot Stowers to defend himself, a reasonable person would not come to the same conclusion.
Montgomery State's Attorney Douglas F. Gansler called the jury's decision a victory. "We're elated with the verdict," he said.
Defense attorney Barry Helfand said Lloyd will appeal. Helfand said he was "stunned" by the verdict because Lloyd is innocent.
"As sure as I'm standing here, this case will be back for trial," Helfand told reporters, predicting that state appeals courts would overturn the verdict.
Lloyd acknowledges shooting and killing Stowers, but he told jurors in testimony last week that he acted in self-defense. Prosecutors say Lloyd deliberately shot Stowers in the back after a fight that started about 8 p.m. Oct. 29.
"This young man was shot in the back," Deputy State's Attorney John McCarthy told jurors. "His vehicle was shot from behind. He was shot as he was leaving."
Lloyd was off duty, driving with his wife and five children, when he encountered Stowers at the Mid-Pike Plaza on Rockville Pike. After a traffic dispute, the two emerged from their vehicles and had a fistfight while dozens of onlookers phoned 911.
Lloyd suffered a broken thumb and finger and a black eye in the fight. Witnesses testified that Lloyd's wife, Wanda Guzman, tried to restrain him as he went to his black sport-utility vehicle to get his Glock service weapon and that he said, "I'll show him," referring to Stowers. During his testimony, Lloyd denied both assertions.
He acknowledged that he shot Stowers once in the lower leg and then, minutes later, fired three shots into Stowers's red Camaro. Stowers's aorta was severed by one of the Glock's .40-caliber slugs, and he died in his car.
Lloyd has been held without bond in the Montgomery County Correctional Facility since his arrest. Yesterday, Circuit Court Judge Ann S. Harrington ordered that he continue to be held without bond pending sentencing July 26.
He was placed on administrative leave by the Marshals Service after his arrest and later retired from the agency.
Lloyd bowed his head as the jury foreman read the manslaughter verdict, and shook his head slowly as the other guilty verdicts were read.
His wife slumped and cried silently as sheriff's deputies led Lloyd out of the courtroom.
Stowers's mother, Tricia Stowers, said she was "satisfied" with the verdict, but she added: "Nobody wins in this situation. Everybody loses. I'd much rather have my son back than a guilty verdict."
Lloyd's defense rested largely on his testimony, which contradicted in several aspects the testimony of eyewitnesses. Lloyd, for example, told jurors that he identified himself as a U.S. marshal as soon as Stowers confronted him that night. Witnesses said the first time they heard Lloyd identify himself as a law enforcement officer was after he shot Stowers in the leg.
Lloyd also maintained that he was standing many feet away from Stowers's Camaro before Stowers started to drive away. Several witnesses said they saw Lloyd standing next to the car -- and even reaching into the vehicle -- before it moved. Their testimony went against the contention that Lloyd felt threatened by Stowers's car.
Helfand said he considered it a victory that Harrington allowed into evidence testimony about prior confrontations Stowers had with other law enforcement officers. Two police officers testified that Stowers verbally challenged and insulted them. One said that he had to wrestle Stowers to the ground.
Jurors also heard testimony that Stowers's blood alcohol level was nearly three times the legal limit when he died.
The judge did not allow evidence of several violent acts that Lloyd is alleged to have committed.
Twice in the last three years, Lloyd's wife obtained restraining orders against him, alleging once that he slammed her head into a kitchen door. Guzman dropped both complaints.