Prosecutors in Baltimore County today were to conclude their murder case against Darel Alston, the teen-ager accused of beating a Pikesville man to death with a baseball bat last year.
Alston, 19, is being tried for the May 6, 1989, robbery and murder of Lenny Gerber, 63, the owner of a Cherry Hill bar who was attacked outside his home about 2 a.m.
Michele Nowak, a county assistant public defender, promised in an opening statement to the Circuit Court jury medical evidence that would prove Gerber died from an infection, not the head injury. She did not dispute that her client struck Gerber with the aluminum bat.
"This is not a case of whodunit," Nowak told the jury. "This is a case of whatdunit."
Gerber, who was robbed of the day's receipts from his Baltimore bar after being struck on the head, managed to stagger to his apartment before collapsing. He was taken to the Shock-Trauma Unit in Baltimore, where he died 53 days later.
Alston is the third defendant to be tried for the robbery and murder of Gerber.
Eddie Love Anderson, 19, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison earlier this year for Gerber's death. Charles Will Westbrook, 20, was convicted of first-degree murder earlier this year, but has not been sentenced yet.
Jim Gentry, an assistant state's attorney, countered Nowak's argument by saying the state medical examiner's office listed the official cause of death as "blunt force trauma to the head, with complications."
According to Gentry, the three youths stalked Gerber, who was in the habit of carrying home weekend bar receipts in a brown paper bag.
The three youths followed Gerber home from his bar the week before the attack, then waited outside his home May 6. Stolen was $2,000, jewelry and a .38-caliber handgun that Gerber kept tucked in his belt for protection.
Gerber was taken to Shock Trauma with a fractured skull, contusions on the brain and bruises. His condition worsened over the next seven weeks, as he suffered several heart attacks and finally died of an infection, Gentry said.