Eugene Dale Jr., already serving life plus 20 years for raping a 13-year-old girl, was convicted yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court of the October 1988 rape and murder of a 12-year-old girl but will not face the death penalty for that crime.
State prosecutors wanted to seek a death sentence against Dale for the murder of Andrea Perry, but cannot because he was not convicted of first-degree rape.
The jury, which deliberated for 10 hours over two days, convicted Dale of first-degree murder, second-degree rape and a handgun charge. In this instance, state law says Dale is eligible for the death penalty only if convicted of first-degree murder and first-degree rape.
Dale now faces a mandatory life sentence. State prosecutors said they will ask Judge Elsbeth Levy Bothe to sentence Dale to life in prison without the possibility of parole at his sentencing hearing on Nov. 27.
Ella Thompson, mother of the slain child, said that she was relieved the case was over.
"As long as he doesn't come out on the streets any more, I'm satisfied," she said.
The jury's verdict came two years after Andrea, a Harlem Park Middle School student who played lacrosse and sang in her church's choir, was raped and murdered the evening of Oct. 12, 1988. The next day, her body was found in an alley behind the 1800 block of West Baltimore Street. Dale had told passers-by there was a body in the alley.
"On Oct. 13, the evidence started with Eugene Dale, and it ends with Eugene Dale here in this courtroom," prosecutor Ilene Nathan told the jury during closing arguments Wednesday. "Andrea Perry was forced to submit to sexual intercourse with a gun at her head and in fear of her life. He raped Andrea Perry and then he killed her so she wouldn't tell."
Dale was questioned the day Andrea was found but was not arrested. However, less than three weeks later, he was in police custody. He had raped a 13-year-old girl, a girl he said he would have killed had she not been his daughter's best friend.
Under questioning by Detective Harry L. Edgerton, Dale told several stories about Andrea and the .32-caliber revolver found in his house. He said he and a 12-year-old cousin saw Andrea the day of her murder. The cousin testified that that wasn't so. Then he said he and another man were walking along the street and the man dragged Andrea into an alley. That, also, was not true.
"You may be asking yourself: Why did this guy open his mouth?" prosecutor Donald Giblin told the jury. "I can't tell you what goes on in the mind of a murderer and a child rapist. It's too bizarre for me."
Perhaps, said Mr. Giblin, Dale was acting out time-honored theories about criminals: that they can't keep their mouths shut and that they always return to the scene.
Before the jury began its deliberations, Mr. Giblin asked the jurors to look beyond the smoke screen of Dale's defense "and look into the heart of the flame, look into the fire and what you will see is what that terrified little girl saw, and that is the face of Eugene Dale."
Dale's defense attorney, M. Cristina Gutierrez, said she will appeal Dale's convictions.