Oken followed her, woman testifies Incident took place same night as slaying

January 15, 1991|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Evening Sun Staff

A neighbor has testified that Steven H. Oken followed her to a convenience store near White Marsh on the night he is accused of slaying 20-year-old Dawn Marie Garvin.

Anita Wilder testified yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court that at about 9:30 p.m. Nov. 2, 1987, Oken, who was driving a pickup truck, followed her for several blocks and tried to get her to pull over by flashing his headlights and waving a badge as if he were a policeman.

Instead, Wilder said, she drove to the store and when Oken asked for her registration, she demanded he produce a police badge.

"I asked to see a police badge," she said. "I was shown what I thought was a police patch."

When she insisted on seeing more than a cloth patch, Wilder said Oken responded by saying, "I am a policeman. Hold on, I'll get my badge."

Wilder told Oken that while he searched for his badge, she was going to telephone her husband from the store. She said Oken made like he was searching for a badge in the truck, then drove off.

Oken is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree robbery and a first-degree sex offense in the death of Garvin, a newlywed whose husband was a Navy aircraft mechanic stationed in Virginia Beach, Va. She had been shot twice in the head with a .25-caliber, semi-automatic pistol and also had been sexually assaulted, according to trial testimony.

If convicted, Oken, 29, who formerly lived in a White Marsh townhouse just 1,000 feet from the victim's apartment, faces a possible death sentence. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity.

The trial is to resume tomorrow.

Oken has remained calm throughout trial testimony, whispering occasionally into his lawyer's ear and making notes on a pad.

He already has been sentenced to life in prison for the November 1987 rape and murder of Lori Ward, a 25-year-old Kittery, Maine, motel clerk.

And sometime after the Garvin trial ends, Oken will be tried in the rape and murder of Patricia Hirt, 43, his sister-in-law, who also was killed in November 1987.

Dr. Mario Golle, an assistant state medical examiner, testified that Garvin was shot once over the left eye and once in the right ear at close range.

Either shot could have been fatal, Golle said.

Donald M. Floer, a firearms examiner for the State Police, testified that shell casings found next to Garvin's body were fired from a .25-caliber handgun that police recovered from Oken's bedroom Nov. 17, 1987.

Markings left on those aluminum shell casings are distinctive, Floer said, and match exactly the markings left on shell casings when he test-fired the pistol.

Benjamin Lipsitz, Oken's attorney, aggressively questioned Floer about why he had no photographs of the various casings to demonstrate to the jury that the casings had similar markings.

Floer said the markings would not show up as well in a photograph as they would under a microscope.

"That amounts to your saying, 'Take my word for it. I'm the expert,' " Lipsitz countered. "You have never made a mistake?"

"I've made many mistakes," Floer calmly answered. "But not in this report."

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