Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007

Deputies memorialized, five years after shootings

Killer offered plea bargain after second trial ends with a hung jury

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Bryan Haynes⁄The Gazette
Derwinn Magruder and his son, Devinn, sit with Theresa Arnaud during a memorial service Aug. 29 in honor of their spouses, who were sheriff’s deputies killed in the line of duty in 2002.
The families and colleagues of two Prince George’s sheriff’s deputies who were shot and killed on duty Aug. 29, 2002, marked the five-year anniversary of the tragedy last week with poetry and song, and prayed for justice in a case that is stalled in court.

‘‘I would just like that it would end,” said Theresa Arnaud, 59, of the prolonged trial. Her husband, James Arnaud, was killed alongside Elizabeth Magruder when they tried to take in Adelphi resident James Ramiah Logan for an emergency psychiatric evaluation.

‘‘We’re putting faith in the system,” she said.

Logan was convicted on two counts of second-degree murder in 2003, but the Maryland Court of Appeals ordered a retrial, ruling that the state erred by using as evidence a confession obtained in violation of Logan’s Miranda Rights. His second trial ended June 15 with a hung jury. Prosecutor Laura Gwinn had argued Logan shot the deputies in a drug-induced frenzy, while defense attorney Fred Bennett claimed Logan suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and should not be held criminally responsible.

Sheriff spokesman Joe Aiello said last week there has since been a plea bargain offered, but that it hasn’t yet been considered because Bennett died in a car crash just two weeks after the last trial.

Ramon Korionoff, spokesman for county State’s Attorney Glenn F. Ivey, said he could not comment on the ongoing court case or the possibility of a plea. Ivey said immediately after the last case that he would push for a swift retrial.

But the ceremony Aug. 29 at sheriff’s headquarters in Largo was dedicated to the lives, not just the loss, of Arnaud and Magruder, whose pictures still hang on the walls at headquarters. The slayings were the first in the history of the county sheriff’s office.

‘‘Service is what these two [were] all about,” said Sheriff Michael Jackson, recalling how imposing Arnaud was when they went through the academy together. He recalled how Magruder, proving her determination, returned to academy training after breaking her toe during her first attempt at becoming a deputy.

Theresa Arnaud, speaking before the memorial service, described the chance encounter that brought her and her husband together.

They met in a restaurant parking lot, she said, in 1969 – the Saturday before Thanksgiving. They decided to grab food inside, and in a matter of minutes, James asked her what she was doing Friday. Not the following Friday, but Jan. 9.

‘‘He said, ‘I think we’re gonna get married,’ and this was after about one hour,” Theresa said. ‘‘I said, ‘OK.’”

Impulsively, they married Jan. 9, right before he shipped out to Alaska with the National Guard. He got married beforehand so he could take Theresa with him.

His wife said she misses his hugs, his voice and his love of shopping.

‘‘He was a big man ... like a John Wayne type,” she said. ‘‘I miss that.”

Magruder’s husband, Derwinn, 36, said it has been tough, raising their 8-year-old son, Devinn, by himself in Clinton.

‘‘You have your good days and your bad days. It’s hard to deal with,” he said. ‘‘You plan to have your lives with both parents and ... it’s just [Devinn] and me instead of all three of us.”

About a dozen family members planted a ceremonial tree last week under the flags outside headquarters. It was a Thundercloud Plum, which was chosen because of its deep purple color kept throughout the seasons, symbolic of the way family members and colleagues saw Arnaud and Magruder – firm and enduring, and true to the color of the law.

E-mail Judson Berger at jberger@gazette.net.