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Stolen ATV report leads detective to murderer

The murder scene wasn't promising.

At about 8 p.m. on April 15, 2008, two men were stabbed -- one fatally -- while riding off-road motorbikes in a wooded area in Clinton. The survivor didn't know the attacker, and there were no other witnesses.

The motive was unclear. Police said the killer may have been after the all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) the men were riding, but then again, maybe not: the motorbikes were left behind.

Though stabbed in the back, the survivor, Matt Bovell, managed to call 911 on his cell phone. Because he was in the woods, however, he couldn't tell the operator where to send help: It took police 38 minutes to find Bovell and his friend, Steven P. Williams.

Williams, 28, had also been stabbed in the back. Emergency workers saved Bovell, but Williams died.

The Prince George's County homicide detective on the case, Michael Delaney, learned from patrol officers that an ATV had been reported stolen from a nearby home in Clinton. It was a possible lead. Delaney followed it -- and hit paydirt.

The home belonged to Lisa Green and her husband, Jerome Green. The stolen ATV had belonged to Lisa's son, Martinez Witherspoon. Delaney talked to Witherspoon. The young man said he'd heard what sounded like an ATV in the woods nearby. He said he thought maybe it was his. He said he went into the woods to investigate -- with a knife.

Witherspoon admitted to Delaney that he had a confrontation with two men who were riding off-road vehicles; Bovell was on a four-wheeled ATV, Williams was on a two-wheel motorized dirtbike. Delaney charged Witherspoon with murder and assault.

At his trial last week, Witherspoon, 24, took the witness stand in his own defense. He acknowledged going into the woods with a knife. He testified that after his "encounter" with Williams and Bovell, he checked the four-wheeler, and saw it was not his.

Under cross-examination by Assistant State's Attorney Joseph C. Ruddy, Witherspoon said he had no idea how the two victims ended up stabbed.

The jury did. Witherspoon -- who had been working two civilian jobs at Andrews Air Force Base and had no criminal record -- was acquitted of first-degree murder, but convicted of second-degree murder, first-degree assault, and weapons charges.

Witherspoon is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 26.

-- Ruben Castaneda

By Ruben Castaneda  |  January 12, 2010; 8:12 AM ET
Categories:  From the Courthouse , Pr. George's , Ruben Castaneda  
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