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Posted at 5:44 PM ET, 11/18/2010

Plea deal postponed in principal case

By Dan Morse

An anticipated plea deal in the case of slain principal Brian Betts was postponed Thursday so defense attorneys could sort through legal issues that are part of the agreement. The defendant, Sharif Lancaster, 19, is due back in court Tuesday morning.

Attorneys in the case still expect the plea agreement to go through. The terms of the agreement, laid out in court papers filed Wednesday, call for Lancaster to plead guilty to robbery and use of a handgun during a felony. The exact nature of the legal issues wasn't clear, but they may relate to Lancaster's sentencing guidelines, originally set at 20 to 35 years.

Lancaster initially was charged with first-degree murder and other charges. He is not believed to be the trigger-man in Betts's murder.

"There are some legal issues that have come up," Defense Attorney Alan Drew told Circuit Judge Eric Johnson in court Thursday. "After we've had an opportunity to look at those issues, we want to have an opportunity to talk to Mr. Lancaster about those issues and get his input."

Prosecutors told Johnson they didn't object to the delay.

By Dan Morse  | November 18, 2010; 5:44 PM ET
Categories:  Dan Morse, Montgomery  
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How did he use a gun against the victim? By the time he entered the unlocked house, Betts was dead.

20 years for burglarizing an unlocked house? That seems a bit much.

He didn't plan Betts's murder. He didn't deceive Betts. He didn't kill Betts. He did plan to rob Betts, but Betts was dead before he had a chance to.

I believe deep down that Betts would have prefered to live and be robbed than die and have his unlocked house be burglarized.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 18, 2010 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Blasmaic you don't have a clue. Anyone who participates in a felony where someone dies is guilty of murder in Maryland. He went there with the intention of robbing Betts. That is 20 years right there.

He didn't plan this? Then why did he get into a car with other thugs who had planned it and then went to the house and stole the man's property?

You are either a far out liberal or a family member.

Posted by: MKadyman | November 18, 2010 9:34 PM | Report abuse

The guy intended to rob Betts. He is guilty of attempted robbery. But Betts was dead when the defendant entered Betts's unlocked home.

The trigger man said he didn't intend to kill Betts when he entered Betts's unlock house, and climbed the stairs to Betts's unlocked bedroom, where Betts waited for him in bed.

How exactly did he do to kill Betts? Nothing, no one expected Betts would be killed.

I do this occasionally. Betts was well loved by all, but it is inappropriate to slap on a bigger sentence than is deserved. Committing injustice is not a good way to remember their beloved Principal.

Posted by: blasmaic | November 18, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

Murder is murder.Betts did more good for the community than all of the scumbag preps and their 'family' could ever hope to put together. Time for the death penalty!

Posted by: 10bestfan | November 19, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse

Why not put Sharif on a plane and dump him out way out over the Atlantic?

Posted by: kenk33 | November 19, 2010 10:30 AM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous. He should be charged with murder, whether he pulled the trigger or not. Doesn't matter. If you are the get-away driver during a bank robbery, and your accomplice goes into the bank to rob it, but ends up shooting and killing someone (whether intentionally or not), you are also charged for murder in the crime. Period. This thug should not be given a lesser charge.

Posted by: B-rod | November 19, 2010 10:58 AM | Report abuse

"If you are the get-away driver during a bank robbery, and your accomplice goes into the bank to rob it, but ends up shooting and killing someone (whether intentionally or not), you are also charged for murder"

Sure, but if you're the law partner of a lawyer who embezzles millions from his clients, then you are not punished for your partner's criminal misconduct.

What's that about?

Posted by: blasmaic | November 19, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

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