A man police have identified as the suspect in the Friday shooting death of a Frederick woman was convicted in a fatal shooting during a May 2000 dispute in a public housing stairwell, according to Frederick County Circuit Court documents.
Melvin William Smith, 16 at the time of that crime, was sentenced to five years in prison for manslaughter in the killing of Cedric Brinkley of Baltimore, according to court documents.
Moments after that shooting, witnesses told police Smith "flipped out" after seeing Brinkley shoot and kill his cousin, Welmon Nash, at Frederick's John Hanson Apartments. The development since has been razed.
Now 27, Smith is wanted on charges related to the 7:25 p.m. killing Friday of Tranice C. Richardson, a 33-year-old Frederick woman with whom he was romantically involved, Frederick police Lt. Clark Pennington said Saturday.
Pennington declined to say whether anyone witnessed the shooting, but said a number of people offered information that "made a case against Smith based on a multitude of information."
As the sky darkened Saturday night, a crowd potentially pushing into the hundreds gathered at the scene of Richardson's shooting at Hillcrest Commons.
Religious leaders spoke of the need to pull together as a community. White balloons filled with helium reached for the sky, and candles flickered through the darkness.
Tamyka Rucker, Richardson's cousin, thanked everyone for coming to celebrate the life of the mother of four and put aside the sadness felt over her death.
"No negativity," she shouted. "Tonight's a celebration. She is in a better place. This is a lesson for everybody. Domestic violence is no joke."
At 2:40 a.m. Saturday, police released a photograph of Smith, whose last known address was in the 1800 block of Dulaney Court in Frederick.
Police said it was not clear whether he lived with or sometimes stayed with Richardson at her residence in the 1100 block of Orchard Terrace.
Smith is described as black, standing about 5-foot-8 and weighing about 150 pounds. He has brown eyes and black hair.
Detectives and patrol officers will be working around the clock until Smith is captured, Pennington said.
"We'll be working as long as it takes to find him," said the commander of the department's criminal investigation division.
The department has put additional marked and unmarked police cars on patrol in the area of the slaying at Hillcrest Commons. Richardson, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds, collapsed in a common area of the complex, a hilly spot along Orchard Terrace off Hill Street.
"We understand that when something as tragic as this happens, members of the community become very unsettled," Pennington said.
He emphasized that the shooting was not a random act, but a crime involving two people intimately involved with each other. The homicide is being investigated as a case tied to domestic violence.
On Nov. 8, 2009, Richardson obtained a temporary protective order against Smith, according to District Court records. But the order expired Nov. 16, 2009, when Richardson failed to appear in court for the follow-up hearing.
Smith fathered at least one of Richardson's children, according to court records.
State's Attorney Charlie Smith spent about three hours with police at the crime scene Friday night as evidence was collected and witness statements were taken.
Pennington declined to reveal what evidence had been found or the caliber of the weapon.
Smith's manslaughter sentence resulted from a plea agreement reached by the state and the defense as the result of several factors, the prosecutor who tried the case said at the time.
Playing a role were Smith's young age of 16, the fact that he looked upon Nash as an older brother and that Nash's autopsy revealed Brinkley had shot him four times at close range.
Smith has been incarcerated for three other convictions, according to court documents.
In 2006, Smith was sentenced to two years in prison for possession of a controlled dangerous substance, not marijuana.
That same year, a conviction for second-degree escape resulted in a 30-month sentence.
In 2010, Smith was ordered to serve two years in prison for possession of heroin.
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