Maine killer on trail in Balto. Co. rape-slaying

January 10, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff

Prosecutor Scott Shellenberger stood over a seated Steven H. Oken today in Baltimore County Circuit Court and pointed his finger in Oken's face.

"Dawn Garvin was murdered with this man's gun, which police found in this man's house," Shellenberger almost shouted, giving a jury his opening statement in the trial of Oken, who is accused of raping and killing Dawn Romano Garvin, 20, on Nov. 2, 1987. The state is seeking the death penalty.

Wearing a dark blue suit and glasses that hid his pale expression, Oken, 29, did not look up from the yellow legal pad on which he had been making occasional notes.

Benjamin Lipsitz, Oken's attorney, interrupted Shellenberger once to complain to Judge James Smith that the prosecutor was making final arguments. He was overruled.

Oken, who is under a life sentence in Maine after pleading guilty there to killing a motel clerk in Kittery, has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity in the Garvin case.

He also faces another murder charge for the killing and rape of his sister-in-law, Patricia Hirt.

Lipsitz, in his opening statement, reminded the jurors, "Your charge is to determine whether a fellow human being should live or die. . . . It's a very heavy burden."

He said police found no fingerprints in Garvin's White Marsh apartment to tie Oken to the crimes. Lipsitz also said FBI analysis of swabs taken from the victim prove Oken could not have raped her.

According to Shellenberger, Garvin, just four months into marriage with her high-school sweetheart, was found dead by her father the morning of her slaying.

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