Trial Starts With Rival Accounts of Shooting

Dozens of people out on Rockville Pike on that warm, dry October night watched with mounting horror as Arthur L. Lloyd and Ryan T. Stowers punched each other again and again at Mid-Pike Plaza.

The fight, precipitated by a traffic dispute, escalated and then ebbed — action captured on audiotape as many witnesses called 911 to describe the scene.

At some point, Lloyd, an off-duty deputy U.S. marshal, fired his Glock service weapon into Stowers’s leg. Minutes later, he fired three shots into Stowers’s red Camaro, and the car rolled into a storefront in the crowded shopping center. One bullet had sliced through the 20-year-old Navy seaman’s aorta, killing him.

The basic facts of Stowers’s death were not disputed yesterday as prosecutors and the defense presented opening statements in Lloyd’s murder trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court. But the critical minutes between the first shot and the one that killed Stowers were given sharply divergent interpretations by the two sides.

According to the defense attorneys, that interval was one of escalating dread for Lloyd. They argue that Stowers, who, according to toxicology reports, was drunk, was unpredictable and irrational and drove his car toward Lloyd and his children. Lloyd shot in panicked self-defense, they say, after shooting to disable Stowers and repeatedly ordering him to lie on the ground.

But for prosecutors, the time that lapsed between the first shot and the fatal one was enough for Lloyd to consider his actions and choose to shoot and kill Stowers — the premeditation they must prove to obtain a first-degree murder conviction against Lloyd, 54, a retired 28-year veteran of the Marshals Service.

“Not a witness to this event will tell you that Arthur Lloyd was ever in the path of [Stowers's] car,” Assistant State’s Attorney John Lalos told jurors. “Not a single witness will tell you that Ryan Stowers was trying to do anything other than leave.”

Barry Helfand, Lloyd’s lead attorney, told jurors that Stowers was “unreasonable” and “unpredictable.”

“This guy just simply will not listen,” Helfand said of Stowers. “We have an irrational, road-raged, furious young man.”

Helfand said later, “This entire incident was foisted upon this marshal and his family not by chance but by Ryan Stowers.”

Lloyd’s trial, expected to last three weeks, will involve dozens of witnesses and dramatic 911 recordings of people who called in from the scene of Stowers’s death, prosecutors said yesterday.

They played a tape of Stowers calling 911 on Oct. 28, shortly after Lloyd shot him the first time. Stowers had returned to his car and can be heard on the 911 tape saying that “some guy just shot me.” Members of Stowers’s family, who flew from Redding, Calif., for the trial, sobbed in the courtroom at the sound of his voice.

Lalos told jurors that the evidence will show that Stowers was “in retreat” when Lloyd shot him and that Stowers had called 911 for help. Stowers was shot in the back as he drove away, Lalos told jurors.

Helfand urged the jury to question the assertion by prosecutors that Stowers was shot from behind. He said medical examiner testimony would show that the bullet that killed Stowers crossed from Stowers’s left side to his right side as it moved through his body. The angle suggests that the shot was made from the side, not directly from behind, Helfand argued.