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GAITHERSBURG, Md. – An arrest has been made 51 years after a Maryland deputy sheriff was killed, according to police.

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According to a news release from the Montgomery County Police Department, Larry David Smith, 71, also known as Larry David Becker, has been arrested for allegedly killing Montgomery County Special Deputy Sheriff Captain James Tappen Hall in 1971. MCPD said that Becker changed his name to Smith in 1975 and moved to Little Falls, New York.

MCPD said Deputy Sheriff Captain Hall’s case was the oldest cold case to be solved by their Major Crimes Division Cold Case Unit.

Smith told detectives when they interviewed him last Thursday in New York that he accidentally shot Hall who had confronted him as he was carrying stolen property from a burglary to a car, according to police per The Associated Press. MCPD believes that Hall had interrupted a burglary in progress when he was shot.

According to the AP, Hall was believed to have been off duty and was working at a country club as a security guard when he was shot.

The AP said that Hall, who was 53 years old, died three days after the shooting where he was found lying face down in a parking lot on October 23, 1971. The parking lot was located in Rockville, Maryland.

Smith allegedly only heard recently that Hall had died and had asked to apologize to his family, according to the AP.

MCPD’s Major Crimes Division Cold Case Unit revisited the case on its 50th anniversary in October 2021 with a fresh set of eyes.

“For almost a year, Detective K. Leggett and Corporal L. Killen of the Cold Case Unit, combed through case files, recordings, and interviewed witnesses. Through the course of their investigation, Leggett and Killen narrowed in on one person, Larry David Becker. In 1973 Becker was interviewed by investigators but had not been labeled a suspect,” MCPD said in the news release.

MCPD said that the investigation is ongoing and anyone with information can call the Major Crimes Division at 240-773-5070 or Crime Solvers of Montgomery County at 866-411-8477 to remain anonymous.

Smith has been charged with murder and is expected to return to Maryland by the end of the week from New York, MCPD said.