A former Patuxent Institution inmate accused of killing another prison member in 1989 was acquitted Friday by a Howard County Circuit Court jury.
Robert L. Walker, 36, who was moved to the Maryland Penitentiary following the July 18, 1989, slaying of 21-year-old Anthony John Casella, was found not guilty of first-degree murder.
The jury deliberated more than three hours before reaching a verdict.
Walker, of Baltimore, was a co-defendant in the Casella case with former Patuxent inmate Robert E. Coleman, 30.
Coleman, also of Baltimore, was convicted in the killing last May and is now serving a 30-year sentence at the penitentiary.
FOR THE RECORD - An article in the Jan. 27 issue of The Howard County Sun, "Patuxent inmate acquitted of killing fellow prisoner," omitted the name of the public defender who represented defendant Robert L. Walker in a recent Circuit Court trial. The attorney was Robert Feinberg.
Casella, of Annandale, Va., was clubbed in the head with a baseball bat and a rock while watching a prison-yard softball game.
A witness testified in both the Walker and Coleman trials that he saw the two men beat Casella. Casella was serving a seven-year sentence for armed robbery.
However, the jury in the Walker trial seemed to place less credibility on the eyewitness, said Fred Silverstein, a Howard County public defender who represented Walker.
Walker's defense keyed on the lack of other witnesseswho came forward in the case.
More than 100 people, including inmates and guards, were in the prison yard at the time of the attack, but only one man claimed to have seen what happened, Silverstein said.
That man, Patuxent inmate Vernon Stevens, testified that he saw Coleman strike Casella with a baseball bat. Walker then struck him twice with a rock, Stevens said.
But the defense refuted Stevens' testimony, saying that the inmate cooperated in the investigation so that he could be transferred to a more favorable prison on the Eastern Shore.
Walker was originally tried on April 10, but a Circuit Courtjudge declared a mistrial when the jury deadlocked at 11-1 in favor of acquittal.
Walker will remain in the penitentiary, where he is serving a 10-year sentence for assault with a handgun.