Trial begins in killing of Lanham mom, kids, aunt

UPPER MARLBORO, Md. — With the words “if you murder an innocent child you forfeit all that makes you human,” prosecutors launched into opening statements in the trial of a man accused of killing four people, including two young children, in a Lanham home.

Prosecutors say Darrell Bellard came to Lanham, Md. from Texas carrying two .45- caliber handguns, and planned to sell marijuana. When the marijuana went missing, they say, Bellard interrogated his sister-in-law, shooting her in the leg and then executing her, her two children and the children’s aunt.

The children were previously identified as a 3-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy.

During testimony, a photo of sister-in-law Dawn Brooks in a pool of blood was left up on a projector screen for jurors to see, as a 911 call from a family member who discovered the body was played.

In addition to police photos of the crime scene, a cell phone picture, said to have been taken by Bellard’s girlfriend, was shown to jurors.

In that photo, the young boy is still alive, while his aunt and sister are dead. Bellard’s girlfriend is expected to be a key prosecution witness.

The trial is expected to last several days. The death penalty is no longer a possibility because of a change in Maryland law.

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