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Roanoke man faces federal charges after acquittal of murder in state court

Roanoke man faces federal charges after acquittal of murder in state court


One month after he was acquitted of murder, a Roanoke man is facing federal charges related to what he told a jury was an act of self-defense when the victim pulled a gun and tried to rob him of drugs.

Demarcus Shaiquan Glenn, 23, was arrested Tuesday on federal firearm charges.

“It is a federal crime to use, carry, brandish, or discharge a firearm during and in furtherance of a drug transaction,” U.S. Attorney Christopher Kavanaugh said. “My office is committed to playing a role with its federal, state, and local partners in addressing the gun violence in Roanoke.”

Glenn faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison if convicted of the latest charges.

He is charged with using a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime, possessing a firearm in furtherance of the transaction, and brandishing and discharging the gun.

At a trial last month in Roanoke Circuit Court, Glenn testified that he shot 16-year-old Tyler Polumbo in late May 2019 during a drug deal that quickly went bad.

“I was scared. I didn’t want to get shot,” Glenn told the jury.

He walked free after being acquitted of murder, attempted robbery and use of a firearm in commission of each of those crimes.

Glenn and Polumbo had never met one another before when an acquaintance connected them on a Friday night and helped arrange a meetup so Polumbo could buy a couple ounces of marijuana.

According to to court testimony, Glenn agreed to go to Polumbo’s home in southwest Roanoke, where they met on the front porch, for the sale. Both Glenn and Polumbo’s friend, Dylan Keith, who was 18 at the time, agreed what happened next went down quickly, with Keith estimating it all took a span of about two minutes.

Glenn testified that Polumbo began raising a gun to him and demanded his weed. He grabbed Polumbo’s right arm and pulled out his own gun as the two struggled. He felt his grip on Polumbo slipping and pulled his trigger.

Polumbo died on the porch before medics arrived, bleeding out as the bullet, which entered his shoulder, cut a diagonal path across his torso, hitting a lung, a rib and, most crucially, his heart, according to medical testimony. The injuries from the single shot were so catastrophic that he had virtually no hope of being rescued, officials said.

Glenn, who said he was panicked after the shooting, took off afterward on foot. He was arrested at his residence in Roanoke and charged 11 days after the incident.

Federal charges like the ones Glenn faces are unusual when there has already been a verdict in state court on the same set of facts, Kavanaugh said.

Chris Kowalczuk, a Roanoke attorney who represented Glenn in state court, said he had not seen such an action in 27 years of practicing criminal law.

“It is highly unusual for the United States to come behind a verdict of not guilty by jury in the commonwealth,” he said.

Approval by U.S. Justice Department officials in Washington, D.C., was required.

The question was whether there were federal interests that were left unresolved in state court. According to the U.S. Attorney’s office, those interests were addressing the recent increase in gun violence in Roanoke.

Under federal law, someone cannot make a claim of self-defense when a shooting is associated with a drug transaction.

Glenn appeared Wednesday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge Robert Ballou, who ordered that he remain held without bond for now.

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Laurence Hammack covers environmental issues, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and business and enterprise stories. He has been a reporter for The Roanoke Times for more than three decades.

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