Frederick Courthouse

The Frederick County Courthouse on West Patrick Street as seen from the roof of the Patrick Center.

Maryland courts are preparing to resume criminal jury trials April 26, more than a year after COVID-19 restrictions first hit pause on their operation, and several notable cases are on the schedule in Frederick County Circuit Court for 2021.

When the pandemic began, Chief Judge Mary Ellen Barbera of the Court of Appeals of Maryland suspended all civil and criminal jury trials in Circuit Courts on an emergency basis beginning March 16, 2020. Jury trials were permitted to resume Oct. 5, then suspended again at the end of December, Barbera's orders stated.

Jury selection will look a little different from pre-pandemic times. Jury assembly for Circuit Court will occur off-site at two locations, according to Will Cockey, spokesman for Frederick County State's Attorney's Office. Prospective jurors will be brought into a courtroom in groups of 10 to 15 people to be evaluated by a judge and attorneys, known as the voir dire process.

When a trial begins, Cockey said courtrooms will be set up so jurors can sit socially distanced from one another. In most courtrooms, jurors will be spaced out in the jury box and in seating areas generally reserved for the public. COVID-19 screenings will continue to occur before anyone enters the courthouse, and masks will be required at all times, Cockey said.

Of the numerous jury trials that are upcoming, notable cases include five homicides and an alleged attempted murder.

Frederick resident Ryan David Bretzfelder, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 24-year-old Devon Jamel Wallace, whose body police say was found outside Charles Town, West Virginia, on May 2, 2019. The two allegedly fought at Bretzfelder's home in the 1100 block of Wilcox Court May 1 after Wallace allegedly assaulted and choked Samantha Lynn Guthrie, who was dating Bretzfelder, according to charging documents and a prior news release from the Frederick County State's Attorney's Office. Guthrie, 32 and a Virginia resident, has been charged as an accessory for allegedly helping dispose of the body.

Guthrie and Bretzfelder are being held without bond. Bretzfelder's jury trial is planned to begin June 7. A trial had not been scheduled for Guthrie as of Tuesday.

Michelle Leigh Handorf, 38, of Knoxville, Maryland, was charged with first-degree murder of her fiancé, Wesley Alan Gibson. He suffered a gunshot wound to his chest and hand in their South Mountain Road home Jan. 28, 2020, according to charging documents. Handorf reportedly told police Gibson was abusive toward her, so she took a handgun sitting on his nightstand and allegedly fired it out of fear he would kill her, according to police.

Handorf is being held and has a jury trial scheduled for April 26.

Frederick resident Jordan Burris Hooks, 28, faces numerous charges including first-degree murder in the death of Waterside community resident Jaemari Alvin Anderson, 19. According to police, Hooks and Anderson were hanging out with friends smoking marijuana at Hooks' home Sept. 5, 2020. Hooks and Anderson reportedly got into a disagreement Sept. 6 and agreed to fight each other outside. Hooks allegedly slipped a gun into his waistband when Anderson wasn't looking, police said.

Charging documents don't explicitly state who fired the shot, but also charged with first-degree murder is Clarksburg resident Brian Braheem Henry, 27. The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of a third suspect, Daniel Alonzo Flythe.

Henry and Hooks are being held without bond. Hooks' jury trial is scheduled to start April 26. A jury trial had not been scheduled for Henry.

Nathaniel Armanian Julius, 22, of Frederick, faces multiple charges including attempted first-degree murder for a July 16, 2020, shooting in the 100 block of Key Parkway in Frederick. A man suffered life-threatening gunshot wounds to his upper body, according to police.

Julius reportedly turned himself in to authorities Nov. 2 after the Frederick Police Department announced it was looking for him in mid-October. His attorney previously told the News-Post Julius is the victim in this case.

Julius is being held without bond and has a jury trial planned to start June 28.

Frederick resident David Frederick Miner IV, 20, faces charges including first-degree murder for allegedly killing his mother with a knife in their home on Deerfield Place on April 19, 2020. Police say he admitted to stabbing 45-year-old Samantha Annette Miner with the knife when she tried to stop him from stabbing the family dog, charging documents state. He allegedly used LSD prior to the incident. Miner is being held, and his jury trial is scheduled to start Sept. 27.

Lemuel Lee Roberts, 33, of Winchester, Virginia, was charged with first-degree murder of his ex-wife, Kaitlin Nichole Roberts, Jan. 11, 2020. Her mutilated body was found in Frederick County near English Muffin Court and English Muffin Way, the News-Post previously reported. Police allegedly found Lemuel Roberts' vehicle after it appeared to have been lit on fire. He is being held without bond and has a jury trial planned for June 7.

Follow Mary Grace Keller on Twitter: @MaryGraceKeller 

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