A Prince George's County judge yesterday ordered that the man accused of killing a county police officer and trying to kill two others be held without bond.
"These are absolutely severe charges, the highest that could be given in this jurisdiction," District Judge Leo E. Green Jr. said during a brief bond hearing for Robert M. Billett.
Billett, 43, of Bladensburg, is charged with first-degree murder and other offenses in connection with Tuesday morning's shooting of Cpl. Steven Gaughan.
In an interview after the hearing, State's Attorney Glenn F. Ivey said he will consider seeking the death penalty against Billett. "We're still conducting the investigation," Ivey said.
Gaughan, 41, was shot with a .40-caliber handgun fired by Billett during a confrontation at a Laurel area apartment complex, police said. Two other county officers returned fire, wounding Billett.
Billett was injured in the right buttock, right leg and left arm, said Joseph M. Niland, the chief public defender in Prince George's and Billett's attorney.
Billett is being held in the medical ward of the Prince George's Detention Center in Upper Marlboro. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 26.
During yesterday's hearing, Billett appeared on closed-circuit television in Green's courtroom. He sat in a wheelchair and said little during the 15-minute hearing.
Assistant State's Attorney Robin Bright urged Green to hold Billett without bond.
"Obviously, this has to be one of the most shocking and outrageous crimes an individual can commit: the murder of a police officer," Bright said.
Bright said the circumstances of the shooting demonstrated that Billett has "complete and utter disregard for life."
There is no indication that Billett has a job, Bright said. He is a native of Jamaica and has no family ties in Prince George's County, Bright said.
A portion of a bullet was recovered from Gaughan's body, and a test showed that it came from the handgun allegedly fired by Billett, Bright said.
In Thursday's editions, The Washington Post erroneously reported that Billett has a history of drug and assault convictions. Court records show that Billett has been charged in the United States with assault, drug and handgun crimes but has not been convicted in this country. In Jamaica, Billett has been arrested on charges of larceny, trespassing and unlawful wounding but convicted only of unlawful wounding.
Niland said Billett is a legal U.S. resident.
In an interview, Niland said his client should not be prejudged.
"There's certainly a lot of confusion about what happened at the scene," Niland said. His comment was a reference to early police statements that Gaughan was in uniform and was wearing his bulletproof vest when he was shot. On Wednesday, police said Gaughan was in street clothes and was not wearing a vest.
Gaughan was the seventh county officer shot at this year and the first county officer killed in the line of duty in at least 10 years.
According to a police charging document, Gaughan was working on a team that was looking for stolen all-terrain vehicles.
An officer saw a Chevy Tahoe with two people inside and saw one of them, later identified as Billett, toss a bag out the window containing a "white powdery substance." That bag has not been found.
When the Tahoe reached an apartment building parking lot, Billett got out and ran. Gaughan ran after him, and Billett shot the officer, according to the charging document.
Two other officers, Michael Eubanks and Shawn Pheobus, returned fire, and Billett was wounded.
Staff writer Allison Klein contributed to this report.