James O. Saloma, 62, who lived in the 7100 block of Maple Avenue, died at Washington Adventist Hospital about 4 a.m. after he, his wife, former Takoma Park City Councilwoman Jennifer Saloma, and their daughter confronted a man on the second floor of their home. Police have charged Daymon Lindsey, 18, of Washington, D.C., with felony murder, in addition to three counts of armed robbery and two counts of first-degree burglary.
Lindsey, of the 600 block of Tewksberry Place NW, will remain in jail following his first court appearance Friday when a judge refused to change Lindsey’s no-bond status.
With the aid of police dogs and a helicopter from Montgomery County and Metropolitan police, Takoma Park officers detained Lindsey a few blocks from Saloma’s home after interviewing Saloma’s wife and daughter.
Police arrived at the Maple Avenue house shortly after 3 a.m. following a 911 call from Jennifer Saloma. According to court documents, Lindsey admitted entering the Saloma home twice during the early morning hours Thursday through an unlocked door. During the second entry, Jennifer Saloma heard someone in the house and began screaming to wake her husband and daughter.
The family confronted Lindsey, who allegedly pulled out a handgun, pointed it at them and said he was there to get money. A struggle ensued and Jennifer Saloma struck Lindsey with a piece of plywood, after which he tried to leave the house, charging documents said.
As his wife called police, James Saloma followed the man downstairs. A few moments after he returned upstairs, he collapsed and was taken to Washington Adventist, where he died. Following an autopsy, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner ruled Saloma’s cause of death a homicide resulting from a heart attack aggravated by the assault.
After getting a description of the suspect from Saloma’s wife and daughter, officers apprehended Lindsey in the 6900 block of Laurel Avenue. Court documents said he initially told officers he was in the area to sell narcotics on Maple Avenue, and later said he was attacked by a group of people on Georgia Avenue in the District. While in police custody, he admitted to the robbery and to struggling with the Saloma family.
‘‘This case is every homeowner’s nightmare situation,” Assistant State’s Attorney Alex Foster said during Lindsey’s bail hearing Friday. Lindsey participated in the hearing via closed-circuit television from the Montgomery County Detention Center in Clarksburg.
Defense attorney Johanna Lishner with the Maryland Public Defender’s Office said her client had no previous convictions, though he did have three prior instances where he failed to appear for a court date.
Felony homicide is, by definition, first-degree murder, said Douglas F. Gansler, Montgomery County’s state’s attorney, and applies anytime someone commits a felony and another person dies as a result, regardless of who caused the death. ‘‘The theory here is that when you rob a house armed with a weapon and someone dies, you’re responsible for it.”
Seth Grimes, president of the Old Town Residents Association, and neighbors on Maple and Tulip avenues are organizing a community meeting 7:30 p.m. Thursday to discuss the burglary and robbery at Saloma’s home and other neighborhood crimes. Police Chief Cindy Creamer, City Manager Barbara Burns Matthews, Mayor Kathy Porter and Ward 1 Councilwoman Joy Austin-Lane have agreed to participate in the meeting, which will take place at Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, 310 Tulip Ave.
The maximum penalty for first-degree murder in Maryland is death, while the lesser charges each carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. Lindsey will have a preliminary hearing March 31.