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Adam Marcus Griffin

WINCHESTER — With his client set to stand trial in Winchester Circuit Court on Oct. 20, the attorney for homicide suspect Adam Marcus Griffin wants evidence against him excluded.

Griffin, a 36-year-old city resident, is accused of shooting 30-year-old city resident Lorenzo Coles Wheeler on North Kent Street on June 30, 2020. In addition to first-degree murder, Griffin has been charged with solicitation of murder for allegedly trying to have a witness connected to the homicide killed.

Police haven't given a motive for the killing, but both men knew one another. They lived in the same Beechcroft Road home in 2019.

Griffin has an extensive criminal history, and authorities say Wheeler was a gang member. Department of Corrections authorities in 2013 labeled Wheeler a member of the Bloodline Imperial Bloods when he was jailed at the Stafford County Jail. He pleaded guilty that year to participating in a criminal gang act. It was over a riot at the jail. 

Gang activity is expected to be discussed at the trial. One of the scheduled prosecution witnesses is a Winchester police officer and street gang expert, according to court documents.

Drug dealing may also be discussed. Police said when Wheeler was killed, he had two plastic bags inside rubber gloves in his pocket containing about 24 grams of what they believed to be crack and powder cocaine.

"The amount of the substances located in the two bags are more than an average person would have for personal use alone and suggests it would later be divided up for sale," wrote Detective Marti L. Ivins, lead investigator of the homicide, in a search warrant affidavit seeking records of calls Wheeler made just before he was killed. "A clear, single-use rubber glove was located in the street next to where Lorenzo was found and it was empty of any contents."

Defense attorney Howard J. Manheimer is seeking to exclude ammunition, a holster, and a manual on Glock semi-automatic pistols. The items allegedly belong to Griffin. The evidence was found in trash bags at 320 Gray Ave. on July 13 of last year, according to the dismissal motion filed Tuesday by Manheimer. He said the evidence would mislead jurors and noted the gun used to kill Wheeler — believed to be a .40 caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol — hasn't been found. 

"Even if we accept that Mr. Griffin placed all eight trash bags at the address, for which there is no reliable information, there is no indication that the gun paraphernalia is remotely related to the murder weapon," Manheimer wrote. "We have no indication that a Glock was even used in the killing and the ammunition is of an entirely separate type."

In a Sept. 27 motion, Manheimer sought dismissal of the multi-jurisdictional grand jury indictments filed against Griffin in November. He asserted grand jurors were biased against his client.

"The Multi-Jurisdictional Grand Jury that handed down the indictments lacked impartiality," Manheimer wrote.

On Friday, Judge Brian M. Madden denied the motion. However, Manheimer will be allowed to use grand jury witness testimony at the trial. He plans to question trial witnesses about alleged inconsistencies in their grand jury testimony.

A hearing on the motions is set for Friday. Heather D. Hovermale, acting commonwealth's attorney, said her office plans to file responses to Manheimer's motions this week.

— Contact Evan Goodenow at egoodenow@winchesterstar.com

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