The shotgun blast came out of nowhere, crashing through the driver's side window as Doray Jones cruised down a dark road in Anne Arundel County. Jones, his foot still on the brake, was found slumped over nearly an hour later, two pellets of buckshot embedded in his head, gasping for breath as his car idled in the night.
The blast that came from nowhere had also come for no reason, prosecutors say. Jones, 18, was chosen at random, killed by a teenager who had set out with three friends to kill someone -- anyone, a prosecutor told a judge yesterday at a murder trial.
" 'I'm not going home until I catch a body,' " Assistant State's Attorney Kelly Poma said during closing arguments, recalling words that two of the friends attributed to the defendant, Anthony Switzer of Severn.
Poma said the shot that killed Jones marked the beginning of a brief but violent spasm in a working-class neighborhood in Severn one night last August. She said Switzer also approached two nearby homes before firing a second blast that narrowly missed a woman, her son's fiancee and two 9-year-old girls.
Switzer, now 17, is charged with murder and four counts of attempted murder. If found guilty, he could face life in prison without the possibility of parole. At trial, Switzer's attorneys did not deny that he was holding the shotgun, a stolen 12-gauge, when both shots were fired.
Rather, attorney David Schertler argued that Switzer was acting under the sway of his older friends and that he was "the most innocent" in the group. Schertler described Switzer's actions as "stupid" and reckless but said he never intended to kill anyone.
Schertler assailed the credibility of the two witnesses who said Switzer had set out to "catch a body." Both testified under grants of immunity, and neither they nor the third teenager with Switzer that night have been charged in connection with the shootings.
During the trial, Poma and Assistant State's Attorney Michael Dunty maintained that the four teenagers burglarized a Severn residence Aug. 19. They stole the shotgun, a rifle, DVDs and other items, the prosecutors said.
The next night, they roamed the streets of Severn with the shotgun, according to the prosecutors. At some point, the prosecutors said, the teenagers decided to shoot at the first car that drove by -- Jones's car, as it turned out.
According to a statement Switzer gave police, the teenagers hid the gun after Switzer fired. They waited in the woods for perhaps 20 minutes, eventually concluding that the blast probably had not struck the driver, the statement says.
During the trial, Anthony Wright, 18, and Marshall Hall, 19, testified that, there in the woods, Switzer announced that he would not go home until he had killed someone.
The teenagers retrieved the shotgun, and Switzer approached a house a short distance away, but no one came to the door, according to the prosecution. He went next door, where a woman refused to let him in, instead calling the police.
By then, Jones's body had been found, his car still in drive. A police officer on the way to that crime scene was diverted to her house. There, as she pointed in the direction she believed Switzer had gone, the officer saw a muzzle flash. He took off in that direction.
The blast came perilously close to the two women and the twins who had just climbed into the back seat of a car. One buckshot pellet pierced a window, skidded along the interior roof and then dropped into a Styrofoam cup of Sprite.
When the police arrived, the gunman was gone. Investigators, however, had a lead. An officer recalled the burglary a day earlier -- and the stolen shotgun. Some of the stolen DVDs had been recovered. A fingerprint on one led to Hall, prosecutors said.
The prosecution said Hall, while being questioned a short time later, implicated Wright, Switzer and the fourth man, Terry Cooks Jr., 19. Switzer confessed and implicated Cooks in an unrelated slaying, the shooting of a jogger in April 2004, authorities said. Cooks has since been charged with that slaying and is awaiting trial.
Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Michael E. Loney said he will render his decision Monday.