PRINCESS ANNE — The man who killed Darryl A. Merrill Jr. in front of his mother and children said, “I’m not a violent person, I’m not a bad person, [and] I wish it never happened.”
At the defense table moments before sentencing Bobby Lee Tenner Jr. turned his head to face the family in the gallery and said he wasn’t looking for trouble that summer day in Crisfield, and “I wish I could bring him back” not just to free himself from a prison sentence, “but to free you all.”
Tenner, who said during his October jury trial he “couldn’t stop crying” after fleeing the scene, was sentenced on Feb. 8 by senior Circuit Court Judge Daniel M. Long to a total of 45 years in prison with at least 10 years to be served without the possibility of parole.
It was around 6:30 p.m. on July 26, 2019 when “Dee” Merrill and Tenner were outside 94 Somers Cove. There were words exchanged and Merrill punched Tenner.
Tenner got up and took out a .38 caliber handgun he had purchased for $100 from an acquaintance at the Crisfield Housing Authority, and shot Merrill between the eyes.
As he ran from the scene to a nearby apartment Tenner threw the gun into a storm drain, calling his father. Tenner was taken into custody the next morning. His prison term will be set so it starts on the day his arrest, July 27, 2019.
Merrill was a father of five and one of his children testified at trial as to what she saw. During sentencing Merrill’s mother Kirsten Brown told the court how this has affected her and the family, requiring therapy as they suffer through nightmares that “ain’t going to go away.”
“I’ll just never be the same again,” she said.
“Nothing I can do to make it right,” adding he doesn’t blame anybody because he was the one who chose to carry a gun that day.
State’s Attorney Wess Garner said if everyone who was insulted or punched acted like Merrill there would be 150 murders in the county.
Defense attorney David Moore reminded the judge that the jury found his client guilty of manslaughter and not second degree murder. He said 45 years “would be harsh.” Garner asked for the maximum sentence calling this “an exceptional” case because children will grow up without a father, a mother lost a son, and “Darryl Merrill will never come back.”
On the manslaughter conviction Judge Long merged first and second degree assault for a total of 10 years. Another 20 years was added for using a firearm during the commission of a violent crime and handgun on person. For illegal possession of a firearm there was another 15 years tacked on.
Judge Long said he remembers the trial and how the daughter saw her father killed, and that she “continues to cry daily.” One day Tenner will be released from prison but Darryl Merrill doesn’t have an opportunity to live, the judge said. Tenner turns 28 on Feb. 23,
This shooting “caused immeasurable pain and suffering to so many people,” the judge said. State’s Attorney Garner commended the Crisfield Police Department, specifically Capt. Lonnie Luedtke and Sgt. Mark Hoover, for their work in the investigation and assistance in the prosecution of this case.
The maximum sentence allowed for all charges would have been 46 years.