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Plea deal withdrawn for Bethesda shooting suspect

Friday - 10/14/2011, 6:58pm  ET

Joshua Prince (Photo courtesy of Montgomery County Police)
Joshua Gabriel Prince will enter his plea Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court, according to court records. (Photo Courtesy of Montgomery County Police)

Neal Augenstein, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Prosecutors have withdrawn a plea deal they offered to an Iraq war veteran from Bethesda who is charged with attempted murder after allegedly firing a high-power rifle at his ex-girlfriend.

Joshua Prince was expected to plead guilty on Friday to first degree assault and failure to comply with a protective order, rather than stand trial for attempted murder.

Prosecutors told a Montgomery County Circuit Court judge on Friday the plea deal was off the table and the trial was set for March.

Prince is indicted for attempted first-degree murder, assault, carrying a dangerous weapon and failing to comply with a peace order for the September 2010 incident.

Prince allegedly fired at his ex-girlfriend as she prepared to leave her parking garage. She was unhurt.

Thirty minutes after the shots were fired, Prince texted the woman, saying "I pictured my life without you and you with another man and I snapped."

Prince's texted "I know I can't take this back" and "I know I just threw away my life."

The shooting prompted a massive manhunt, which shut down ramps on Interstate 270 and caused county schools to go into lockdown. Prince surrendered later that day in Montoursville, Pa.

The sentencing guidelines for the attempted murder and first degree assault are identical, according to sources.

Montgomery County State's Attorney's Office and defense attorney Nick Kourtesis had no comment on the plea deal.

Prince's first attorney, Rebecca Nitkin, claimed the Gulf War veteran was suffering a post traumatic stress disorder flashback during the shooting.

However, a state doctor at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center determined Prince was competent to stand trial and assist in his own defense.

Kourtesis has acknowledged the seemingly incriminating text messages pose "an uphill battle."

At the time of his arrest, Prince was employed as a cardiologist's sonographer at Georgetown University Hospital.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)