SECTION: Metro; C5
LENGTH: 476 words
BYLINE: From news services and staff reports
DATELINE: ANNAPOLIS, April 23, 1985
Murder Convictions Upset;
New Trial Order in P.G. Armed Robbery
The Maryland Court of Appeals today unanimously reversed the murder
convictions of a Wheaton man sentenced to death for
killing an off-duty Prince George's County police officer and a convenience-store worker during an armed robbery.
The state's highest court overturned Kenneth James Lodowski's convictions
in the June 1983 slayings, and ordered a new trial
and sentencing procedure in the case.
The court ruled that a statement by Lodowski to Prince George's County
police should not have been admitted into evidence
because police violated Lodowski's constitutional right to counsel by refusing to let lawyers see him while they interrogated him.
Lodowski was convicted of fatally shooting Carlton X. Fletcher, 31,
an off-duty police officer working as a security guard at the
Goddard Mini Mart in Greenbelt, and Minh Phamdo, 20, the store's assistant manager.
Phamdo was shot as he left the store carrying $24,000 to put in a bank's
night depository. Fletcher was shot as he sat in his
marked police cruiser outside the store.
A codefendant, Kamel Ali Elfadl, was also convicted in both murders
and sentenced to life in prison. Elfadl's convictions were
overturned earlier on similar grounds by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, which ordered a new trial.
While reversing Lodowski's conviction, the court took the unusual step
of ruling on several side issues, including the use of
victim-impact statements at Lodowski's sentencing hearing, in order to provide guidance "on matters of important public
A five-member majority said statements from victims' families can be
considered when deciding whether to impose a death
sentence. Judges Harry A. Cole and John C. Eldridge dissented.
In an emotional 47-page dissent, Cole said he understood the desire
of "the victims of heinous crimes . . . to have a voice in the
criminal justice process . . . . But the halls of justice should not be the forum by which their cries for vengeance should be heard."
In overturning the murder convictions, the Court of Appeals said that
police had refused to allow two lawyers hired by
Lodowski's mother to talk to him. While the lawyers were waiting, he signed a statement concerning his role in the robbery and
Although Lodowski also signed a statement waiving his right to see a
lawyer, the Court of Appeals said this waiver was not done
"voluntarily, knowingly and intelligently."
"I'm very pleased that the court has seen fit to agree with our position
on this matter," said William C. Brennan, one of
Lodowski's lawyers. Brennan said he "would assume that the police would study these opinions in the Lowdowski and Elfadl
cases very carefully with a view to toward amending" their questioning procedures.
Assistant State's Attorney William Missouri said he could not comment because he had not seen the opinion.
Copyright 1985 The Washington Post