Wicomico County Man Found Guilty of Manslaughter, Not Murder - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wicomico County Man Found Guilty of Manslaughter, Not Murder

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William Blan Harcum III William Blan Harcum III

SALISBURY, Md.- It took a Wicomico County Circuit Court jury two hours Thursday to find William Blan Harcum III not guilty of both first- and second-degree murder.  However, Harcum was guilty of voluntary manslaughter, along with first- and second-degree assault.

William Harcum, 31, was arrested on July 27 for allegedly killing 62-year-old Lee P. Harcum while working in one of the family’s watermelon fields on the 10000 block of Snethen Church Road in Mardela Springs.

Harcum and his uncle were picking watermelons last July with a handful of other workers.  Testimony during the two day trial revealed the two Harcum's began to argue with one another and the argument got heated.  Lee Harcum then hit his nephew in the back of the head with a watermelon, knocking him unconscious, according to witness testimony.

When William Harcum came too, Lee Harcum proceeded to start fighting with his nephew.  Witnesses said the two exchanged punches and eventually began wrestling on the ground.  The other workers broke up the fight and told the two men to leave for the day.

William Harcum took the stand Thursday in his own defense.  Harcum said when the two men were separated, his uncle told him, "You're a dead man." Harcum told the jury he was fearful for his life because his uncle kept a loaded gun in his nearby pickup truck.  Harcum testified he got into his pickup truck, drove to a tractor and removed the tractor hitch pin.  Harcum got back into his car and sped off in the direction of his uncle.  William Harcum testified he hit his uncle with the tractor pin with the intention of knocking him unconscious and not killing him.

The defense also called a clinical neuropsychologist who testified that after meeting and interviewing William Harcum, it was clear he sustained a concussion from the blow to the head with the watermelon.  The neuropsychologist testified that after receiving such an injury, a person's thinking, judgment, and actions can be compromised or "off" because of the damage to the brain.

Prosecutors argued strongly for a first-degree murder conviction.  They said Harcum had plenty of time to realize the gravity off his actions and their consequences before he struck his uncle in the head.  Because Harcum carried out the intention of striking his uncle, the prosecution argued that was grounds for a first-degree murder conviction.

However, the jury disagreed and believed Harcum acted with some degree of self-defense in mind, which lead to the voluntary manslaughter conviction rather than murder.  Harcum faces a maximum penalty of 10 years behind bars for his conviction. He will be sentenced following a pre-sentence investigation.

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