Ocean City Today

Tunnell receives life without parole for murder

By Ocean City Today staff report | Dec 07, 2017
Anthony Tunnell

(Dec. 8, 2017) A year to the day after James “Bumpy” Allen Jr. was shot and killed in Pocomoke City, Anthony Tunnell, 37, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, following his conviction in September of first-degree murder.

Tunnell maintained his innocence during his statement to the court.

“First and foremost, I know I didn’t do that and I can lay down my head at night knowing I didn’t do it,” Tunnell said.

His defense attorney, Sandra Fried, told Circuit Court Judge Richard Bloxom that she knew courts generally were looking for statements of remorse during defendant statements, but “if he truly didn’t do something, his reaction is authentic.”

Bloxom was unswayed.

“The facts of the case reveal you organized and led a bunch of assassins into the state and county to exact revenge for people stealing a quantity of marijuana,” Bloxom said. “Society needs to be protected from people like you, the only way to do that is life without parole.”

Bloxom called Tunnell’s affect during his hearing and statement “cold-blooded, callous and staggering.”

During the trial when Tunnell was convicted, the prosecution established that a quantity of marijuana had apparently been stolen from Tunnell sometime around Thanksgiving 2016. A flurry of text messages, estimated to be in the tens of thousands, submitted into evidence established to a jury’s satisfaction Tunnell’s desire to recover his property at all costs.

“F—- jail, f—- life, f—- everything,” McDermott quoted a text from Tunnell to an associate as evidence of planning the attack, and how far he was willing to go to recover his marijuana.

“[Allen] was shot back to front, left to right, down to up — he was running away … this is true organized crime, this is true gang violence. If you commit crimes like this in Worcester County, you go to jail forever,” McDermott said.

McDermott said it was unclear if Allen had anything to do with the theft.

Fried argued Tunnell should serve life in prison, based upon the concept of “accomplice liability.” Tunnell was convicted of first-degree murder in the shooting death of Allen, but was acquitted or the prosecutors chose not to pursue five firearms charges for the same incident. Accomplice liability allows the court to find a person criminally responsible for the actions of another. Fried argued this situation resulted in an inconsistent sentence, and moved for a new trial.

Bloxom denied this motion, but Tunnell has 30 days to file an appeal. Fried made other motions to get a new trial, all of which were denied by Bloxom.

“I’ll be back,” Tunnell said before being led from the courtroom.

Shortly after 10 p.m. on Dec. 1, 2016, police received a 911 call from a passing motorist that reported seeing a man stagger and fall in the middle of the road near Fourth and Market Streets in downtown Pocomoke City. Police believe the shooting occurred about an eighth of a mile away, in the area of Fourth and Oxford streets.

Tunnell was apprehended on Dec. 11, reportedly without incident, in a Salisbury hotel.

At the time of the incident, Lt. Earl Starner, Maryland State Police Berlin Barracks commander, said both victim and perpetrator had connections to what he called a “drug nexus” in southern Worcester.



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