A 31-year-old man was convicted Tuesday of murdering the mother of a Naval Academy midshipman who was hit by a stray bullet last summer as she celebrated her son’s achievement in Annapolis.

Michelle Cummings, 57, was fatally struck by a stray bullet early in the morning of June 29, 2021. She was standing on a hotel patio with her family and others on Induction Day, when “plebes” start their first summer at the academy.

Two weeks later, Annapolis Police arrested Angelo Harrod, 31, and charged him with first- and second-degree murder, two counts of attempted first-and second-degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, manslaughter, reckless endangerment and firearms offenses.

A jury on Tuesday found Harrod guilty on all remaining counts. Prosecutors decided not to pursue one charge related to firearms because Harrod already faces multiple life terms in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 24.

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Standing outside the courthouse after the verdict, Leonard Cummings Jr. described himself as a victim of the gun violence that killed his wife.

“The first thing I would like to say is to thank the team that was assembled and did their due diligence to find closure in this chapter of this process because it is a process. Where I’m from we call that the A-Team.

“And when they came together, and we watched it unfold in the court, it was amazing. Knowing that justice can be served for a senseless crime that happened on June 29,” he said.

Michelle Cummings, of Houston, Texas, was standing on the Graduate Hotel patio separated from the dumpster by a concrete barrier and a brick wall.

Her family was in court as the verdict was read after less than a full day of deliberation, although her son, Midshipman 4th Class Leonard “Trey” Cummings III, a member of the Navy football squad, was not.

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After the jury was dismissed, the family hugged Annapolis Police Chief Ed Jackson, Mayor Gavin Buckley, trial prosecutors and Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney Anne Colt Leitess. Members of the Police Department in the courtroom for the verdict could be seen brushing away tears.

Standing outside with the family, Leitess said that despite difficulty in getting witnesses to come forward, police and prosecutors were able to put together a case involving seized clothing, video camera footage and cellphone data.

“As a mother myself, seeing this gun violence and not having people in the community rise up to stop it is very upsetting,” she said. “So, there are people in the community who know more, and we invite them to come forward. This case will not close.”

During the two-week trial, videos culled from public safety cameras in the Clay Street neighborhood behind the hotel showed what prosecutors said was Harrod and another man shooting at an SUV driving past just before Cummings was killed.

The videos then show a man in a black sweatsuit with a distinctive “Keys to Success” logo, a local brand of clothing, firing repeatedly near a trash dumpster that overlooked the hotel property and then quickly walking away.

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Prosecutors presented the sweatsuit in court along with photos from Harrod’s cellphone and DNA results they said tied him to it. The clothing was taken from the home of his girlfriend days after the shooting.

Assistant State’s Attorney Jason Steinhardt told the jury Monday afternoon that several times in the video Herrod can be seen holding a gun at his side and following the car through the neighborhood — driven by an ex-girlfriend and her new boyfriend.

No gun was ever recovered and police have not arrested the second man seen in the videos. Eight shots were fired that night, five by Harrod and three by the other man, prosecutors told the jury.

Defense attorney Howard Cardin presented no witnesses and Harrod did not testify. He said he will file a motion requesting a new trial within 10 days, but expected the issue ultimately to be decided on appeal.

A looming presence during the trial was the man seen with Harrod on the night of the shooting. No gun was ever recovered, and Cardin based his defense on trying to encourage reasonable doubt that the unknown second gunman might have fired the fatal shot.

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He said the failure of police to arrest the second man left his client holding the bag.

Correction: This story has been updated to correct the age of Angelo Harrod.


Rick Hutzell is the Annapolis columnist for The Baltimore Banner. He writes about what's happening today, how we got here and where we're going next. The former editor of Capital Gazette, he led the newspaper to a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 2018 mass shooting in its newsroom.

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