The owner of a Gaithersburg television repair business was charged by Montgomery County police yesterday with paying a youth from a low-income housing project "about $50" to murder the boyfriend of the businessman's wife.
The businessman, Victor L. Saadeh, and the youth, Andrew Leon Hart, 17, were arrested yesterday and charged with first-degree murder, according to Montgomery police.
Montgomery police said that Michael James Alexander was shot through a window last July 12 as he watched television in the apartment he shared with Darla Saadeh, police said.
Hart, one of nine children, lives with his family in a subsidized, low-income housing development in Gaithersburg, where his widowed mother and the family live on social security benefits, according to his older brother, George Kevin.
Hart dropped out of Magruder High School this year to find work and help support a one-month-old son, who is living with Hart's 15-year-old girlfriend, according to the brother.
Cpl. Thomas M. Lechner, who declined to say how much money had been paid for the shooting, added: "I don't know why he agreed to do it for such a small amount." Police sources said the amount involved was "about $50."
Lechner, the chief investigator in the case, said a third party allegedly brought the two suspects together for the "deal." Police did not release the name of the third party because he is considered a material witness.
Contract killings are among the crimes that fall under Maryland's new death penalty law, which went into effect July 1. But Montgomery County Deputy State's Attorney Timothy Clarke said that prosecutors have until 30 days before the murder trial to determine whether they will seek the death penalty. It would apply, in any case, lawyers said, only to the person who actually was convicted of performing the murder.
Saadeh, 32, owns Aero TV, a repair shop at 12-D E. Diamon Ave. in Gaithersburg, police said. At his bond hearing yesterday. Saadeh's lawyers said he had operated the business for 15 years.
His bond was set at "$15,000 cash" after Clarke argued that there would be "a specific danger" to "a witness involved in the matter . . . a young man, a citizen of the community," if Saadeh were released on bond.
Police said Saadeh of 1590 Watkins Mill Rd., Gaithersburg, was separated from his wife Darla, and that she had been seeing Alexander for about two or three weeks when the shooting occurred.
Alexander was wounded in the lower back by a shot from a handgun and died Aug. 4 from complications of the wound at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, police said.
Lechner said that the two suspects had not know each other before the alleged deal was made.
A school employe who knew Andrew Hart said the youth "had personal problems," and had been exposed to an environment where drug use was prevalent, where people were "down on their luck" and where there weren't many male "role models."
Hart's brother said that Hart planned to return to school after finding a job to help support his son, Antoine, and he said that Hart was very fond of the child, "always carrying the baby around."
Friends described Hart as a regular guy who liked to have fun.
His brother said he "got bold" when he was drunk.
Police said that Hart, who was arrested at his home at 8241 Morning View Dr., early yesterday, would appear at a bond hearing Monday.