Death Penalty Sought For Rape, Murder Suspect

January 20, 1991|By John A. Morris | John A. Morris,Staff writer

Prosecutors will seek the death penalty for Steven Gregory Anderson,who has been charged with the abduction, rape and murder of a Crofton woman three months after he was released from prison.

State's Attorney Frank Weathersbee said Wednesday he'd seek to send Anderson tothe gas chamber when trial commences March 5. Anderson is accused ofstrangling Gwyn Dixon Criswell last September.

"The severity of the crime and the innocence of the victim" loomed large in the decision to seek the death penalty, said Cynthia Ferris, the assistant state's attorney who will prosecute the case. "It could have been anybody out on a Sunday morning."

"This is the type of offense that is every woman's nightmare -- to be abducted, then taken out into the woods, raped and murdered," said Deputy State's Attorney Gerald Anders. "We couldn't find any mitigating circumstances."

Police said Criswell, 41, left home for the grocery store between 10 and 10:30 a.m. that Sunday. She stopped at an automatic teller machine and never arrived at the store, police said.

Anderson, who had been released from prison three months earlier, was arrested that evening and charged with an unrelated purse-snatching and the theft of Criswell's car. After police found Criswell's body hidden a short distance behind the Crofton Library, Anderson was charged with abducting and strangling to death the mother of two.

Anderson, 29, servedfive years at the Eastern Correctional Institute in Somerset County for a series of breaking-and-enterings in Edgewater.

Although Weathersbee consulted his assistants, Anders said the state's attorney made the decision after talking with Criswell's family and police investigators and weighing Anderson's previous record. Weathersbee was outof town and unavailable for comment Friday.

The decision to ask for the death penalty is the second this month. Prosecutors announced earlier they would seek the death penalty for Ronald Lamar Scoates, 30, in connection with the July 9 slaying of 52-year-old Robert Austin Bell.

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