Estate protected pending murder trial

Judge issues order protecting slain woman’s interest in house
Kate Leckie
October 28, 2009
The Frederick News-Post Staff
http://www.fredericknewspost.com/sections/news/display.htm?StoryID=97051
To protect the interests of a slain woman’s estate, attorney Alan L. Winik has asked a judge to prohibit the man accused of killing her — the woman’s husband — from selling the couple’s Frederick house.

A Frederick County grand jury indicted Marshall Franklin Metz Sr. on Friday on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree assault and use of a
handgun in a crime of violence in the Sept. 29 shooting death of Ann Sue Metz, 60.

On Tuesday, Winik told Circuit Judge G. Edward Dwyer Jr. that he found it necessary to file a temporary restraining order related to the Metzes’
property last week.

He did so after Marshall Metz, through his powers of attorney, denied Ann Metz’s son, Jimmy Wayne Trout, and other family members access to the Metzes’ property in the 700 block of Dogwood Court.

A no-trespass letter Trout received this month prevents Ann Metz’s granddaughters, Franki and Shannon Trout, from even stopping by to feed her rescued box turtles, according to court records.

Vicky Metz, Marshall Metz’s daughter who is living in the residence, told Trout in the days after the shooting that the house and its contents would be sold, Winik told Dwyer.

“Everything is going to be liquidated,” Winik quoted Vicky Metz as saying.

Although Metz, 65, is being held without bail, Winik asked what would happen if he were allowed to post bail to gain his freedom pending trial. No trial date has been set.

Without an order of the court to prevent it, Metz could sell the couple’s home, which is paid off and valued at $284,000.

If he left the area before trial, Ann Metz’s estate would lose her half of the proceeds from a sale of the house.

Winik acknowledged that Metz is presumed innocent pending trial.

“No one today is attempting to convict Mr. Metz,” he said.

But Winik felt compelled to take steps to prevent an injustice against Ann Metz’s estate down the road.

Under the slayer rule, Maryland law “is quite clear,” Winik said.

“A murderer cannot be enriched by taking part of an estate of the one they murdered,” he said. “By reason of a wrongful act, they cannot collect.”

On Oct. 5, Ann Metz’s son, Jimmy Trout, and his daughters went to the home the Metzes shared for 25 years. On Oct. 7, Trout was named personal representative of his mother’s estate.

Franki and Shannon Trout removed items they needed for college, according to court testimony.

But William L. Haugh Jr., Marshall Metz’s attorney, said the Trouts took much more, and he wants his client’s property returned to the residence.

At the end of Tuesday’s hourlong hearing, Dwyer prohibited Marshall Metz and his powers of attorney, Haugh and Vicky Metz, from selling or entering into a contract to sell the house for less than the fair-market value without holding in trust half of the proceeds for Ann Metz’s estate.

“Whether the slayer rule applies is down the road,” Dwyer said.

He ordered the parties to agree on a time to meet at the house and inventory all the items inside, specifying which belong to Ann Metz, which to
Marshall Metz and items in dispute.

“Items in dispute, I will decide,” Dwyer said.

Haugh asked if Marshall Metz could accompany him and Vicky Metz to the inventory session.

“No,” Dwyer said.

Jimmy Wayne Trout may be accompanied by his lawyers, Winik and Stephen LeRoux, and the lawyer for his mother’s estate, Laura Melia.

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