Mark Gregory Medley, a 37-year-old Severn man who claimed he was psychotic when he used a steel rod to beat his frail, elderly parents todeath in June 1989, was convicted yesterday of first-degree murder.
A Circuit Court jury deliberated only an hour before finding Medley guilty of murder -- and criminally responsible for his actions. County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, who prosecuted the case, has said he will seek a sentence of life with no chance for parole forMedley. Sentencing is set for April 29.
In an interview after the verdict was announced, one juror said the panel spent almost no time considering the defense claim that Medley's schizophrenia rendered him unable to form the intent necessary to be convicted of premeditated murder. Assistant Public Defender J. Michael Wachs had asked the jury to convict Medley of the lesser charge of manslaughter -- and to find his client not criminally responsible because of insanity.
With all jurors convinced that Medley had premeditated the murder of his parents, the deliberations moved quickly to the question of whether Medley was insane when he killed them, said juror Mark Nichols, of Gambrills. Nichols said a couple of jurorswere leaning toward finding Medley insane, but were soon won over bythe other jurors.
"We all felt sorry for (Medley), and we felt very sorry for the family, but we had to look at the facts," Nichols said.
Medley beat his parents, 77-year-old Joe Caldwell Medley and 75-year-old Catherine Ann Medley, to death on June 14, 1989, in the living room of their house in the 1400 block of Virginia Avenue. After killing them, he forged some of their checks, withdrew money from family bank accounts and took off on a jaunt that included stops in New York City, New Jersey, New Orleans, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida,where he was arrested, evidence in the trial showed.
Medley, whose history of alcoholism, drug abuse and psychological problems was extensively detailed during the weeklong trial, had unsuccessfully tried to flee to Algeria or Liberia under the idea that those countries had no extradition treaty with the United States.
Prosecutors suggested Medley had faked some of his mental illness and emphasized his attempt to flee to counter the defense claim that Medley lacked the capacity to appreciate the criminal nature of the killings. While defense lawyers ridiculed the state's case as lacking a plausible motive, Weathersbee told the jury Medley killed his loving, caring parents because he hated them.
The prosecutor said: "He wanted to get his father out of the way. They were trying to get him to do the right thing. He's a drunk. He's a drug addict. He didn't want to do the right thing. He killed them."
Yesterday's verdict came eight days after Medley issued an accusation that Judge Eugene M. Lerner is an instrument of the devil and should therefore step down from the case. Lerner denied that pre-trial motion.
When the trial began, the prosecution opened by establishing Medley as the person who used a piece of "cold, rolled steel" 3 feet long and a half-inch in diameter to bludgeonhis parents to death. An FBI agent described how Medley gave a detailed confession of the killing; in the confession Medley said he attacked his parents because he believed his father was going to shoot himwith a small handgun.
The defense described Medley as being a notably intelligent young adult -- he attended Yale University and graduated from the University of Maryland -- who developed a serious drug and alcohol problem and began displaying signs of schizophrenia. Wachs said Medley was a "social misfit" who saw himself as physically unattractive, who has never had a girlfriend and, for that matter, has "never connected emotionally with another person."
Medley did not testify in the trial.
A psychologist called to the stand by the defense recited a list of bizarre acts attributed to Medley over the years, such as tearing out the water pipes in the family house because the CIA told him the house was on fire and stripping naked and declaring he was a fairy dancing on a moonbeam.
When the psychologist, David L. Shapiro, said he had been told that Medley was thrown out of a California detoxification center only days before the killing because of bizarre behavior that included running naked through the woods,a psychiatrist was persuaded to change his opinion of Medley.
Psychiatrist Neil H. Blumberg, who in a Feb. 11 letter had stated Medleywas sane when he killed his parents, said the incident in Californiaconvinced him that Medley was psychotic at the time of the slaying and was thus not criminally responsible. The psychiatrist's change of heart stunned prosecutors and, in the end, did not play well with thejury.
Nichols, the juror, said the switch damaged Blumberg's credibility with the jurors, who found doctors from the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital for the criminally insane to be more credible in their conclusions that Medley was not insane.