By Guy Leonard, County Times
HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Oct. 16, 2008)—Stewart Gough, the man who was convicted of first-degree murder in 2003 but won his bid to have the conviction overturned last year on the grounds he was not allowed to admit evidence in his favor at trial, plead guilty Oct. 10 to conspiracy to commit second- degree murder.
He was sentenced to 30 years in prison; but will have 25 years to serve since being incarcerated five years ago.
Gough was originally convicted of being a part of a fatal shooting that took place at the Brass Rail bar in Great Mills, in which Keith Bonds lost his life.
An associate of Goughs, Vincent Gordon, Jr., was found guilty of the actual shooting, while Gough was believed by prosecutors to have driven the car in an escape from the scene.
He [Gough] was not alleged to be the shooter, said Assistant States Attorney James Tanavage, the prosecutor assigned to the case. He was the driver in the shooting.
We thought this was a fair disposition.
Goughs conviction on first-degree murder charges was overturned in July of last year when the Maryland Court of Special Appeals ruled that Goughs attorney should have been allowed to admit into evidence statements made by Gough that showed his surprise at the shots being fired by Gordon during the incident.
According to the Court of Special Appeals ruling Gough asked one of the co-defendants in the case Why you do that s?, I aint goin down for this s. The statement was overheard by Goughs girlfriend when she made a cell phone call to Gough while he and other co-defendants were driving away from the Brass Rail after the shooting.
Gordon was sentenced to life in prison for the murder, plus 35 years for other crimes including firing on an off-duty sheriffs deputy who was trying to help Bonds. That deputy wounded Gordon in a firefight outside the bar that day.
The shooting was precipitated by a fight that ensued as the bar closed, the COSA decision said, in which three co-defendants that went to the bar with Gough, Nathan Schindler, Terrance Snyder and Gordon began to beat the victim, Bonds.
Gough was present during the beating, the opinion stated, but accounts differed as to his level of involvement in the fight.
When off-duty Deputy Earl Young attempted to stop the assailants from beating Bonds further and get between them he heard a shot fired.
Young returned fire when Gordon shot at him, wounding Gordon. The assailants fled shortly thereafter, but Gough quickly returned driving the vehicle with a wounded Gordon inside, asking police to help his friend.
Gough was never said to have had a gun during the shootout, nor was he accused of firing any shots.
Tanavage said that Gough also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit first-degree assault complete with a 15-year sentence, which was suspended.
The recent plea deal meant that this could be the last time the state would have to deal with the case.
The good thing about a plea is you pretty much waive your rights to an appeal, Tanavage said. Its done.