Three suspects, all out of jail on bond, have been arrested by Montgomery County police and charged with Tuesday night's robbery and murder of a Rockville restaurant manager.
Raymond Latour Offutt, 24, the man police believe pulled the trigger during the robbery of O'Brien's Pit Barbeque, was released from the Montgomery County jail in August after District Court Judge Henry Monahan reduced the $575,000 bail set in his case to $5,000. Following his release, he worked briefly at O'Brien's as a dishwasher and busboy, according to one of the restaurant's owners.
Gerald Fairfax, 18, who police said held five employes of the restaurant in a back room while the robbery and shooting were under way, had been released on bond in Montgomery County on charges of theft and transporting a handgun. A spokesman for the Montgomery state's attorney's office said Fairfax had "an extensive juvenile criminal history" and is scheduled to stand trial in November for two cases in the county's district court.
Jeremy High, 19, who allegedly drove the getaway car, was free on bond pending his trial on charges of burglary in Frederick county.
The arrests of Offutt, Fairfax and High late Wednesday night and early yesterday came after investigators, acting on tips from four informants, questioned Mary Williams, identified in court records as an acquaintance of all three men.
According to police sources and court records, Williams told police she was in a car with all three suspects on the night of the murder when Offutt allegedly pulled out a gun, loaded it, and explained how he wanted to rob a store where he once worked in order to raise bail money for a girlfriend.
Court records say police initially linked Offutt to the crime because of his custom of wearing white shoes with sharply pointed toes. The masked assailant who shot and killed Irish-born restaurant manager Michael O'Callahan was described as wearing white shoes, according to the records.
Offutt, who is also known as Raymond Williamson, had already been convicted once for burglary and once for assault and battery and was on parole when he was arrested again in Montgomery County Aug. 18, according to police spokesmen and court records.
Offutt was charged then with burglarizing six homes in Gaithersburg, Rockville and the Washington Grove area.
Bond for the six crimes originally totaled $575,000, according to court records and county police officer Tom J. Cox, who directs the warrant and fugitive section of the police department.
Cox said those initial high bonds -- ranging from $50,000 to $200,000 per charge -- were set by commissioners, who are the court's 24-hour lay employes, over the course of three days of arraignments. Each bond was later upheld by a judge, Cox said.
Offutt was later assigned a public defender, Rockville lawyer Joseph D. Gallagher, who asked for a bond review hearing on Aug. 28. Judge Monahan, who was assigned that day's routine court duties, reduced Offutt's total bond to $5,000, over the objections of state prosecutors who had recently launched a crackdown on burglars.
Gallagher, who successfully argued for the lower bond, said yesterday after learning that his client was charged in the shooting: "I know that Judge Monahan is probably going to take some heat on this thing. I don't think it's fair. It's easy in hindsight to say if Offutt had never gotten off this never would have happened.
"There was reason -- there was good reason -- to reduce the man's bond," Gallagher said. "There was nothing to indicate the man would be involved in this type of situation. Offutt is a guy who has lived his entire life right here in the Rockville area. He had a stable residence at that time. He had roots in the community.
"It will be a long time before anybody gets their bond substantially reduced again," he added.
Judge Monahan could not be reached for comment yesterday. State's attorney Andrew Sonner said through a spokesman that he would have no comment on the incident before the trial.
Montgomery District Court administrative judge Stanley Klavan, who recently issued a memo overhauling the bond review process, said judicial ethics prevented him from discussing the specific case.
Police said the assailants who murdered O'Callahan Tuesday night at O'Brien's entered through the kitchen wearing stocking masks. After herding five employes into a back office, one of the gunmen allegedly surprised O'Callahan, who was counting receipts, and shot him in the head.
According to police, High was arrested at 9:35 Wednesday night in a car at the corner of Md. Rte. 355 and Shady Grove Road. Offutt was arrested at the Rainbow Motor Lodge on Rockville Pike around 11 p.m. Wednesday. Fairfax was arrested at his home at about 2:30 yesterday morning.