A 28-year-old woman burst into tears and her mother fainted after a Baltimore County jury found the woman guilty yesterday of murdering an elderly Sparks man during a failed robbery last fall.
Cynthia L. Levering of Baltimore was convicted of first-degree murder in the slaying of Harold L. Webb, 75, who was killed Nov. 16 after he let a man and woman posing as stranded motorists into his home to use the telephone.
Mr. Webb was shot five times by one of the robbers as his 66-year-old wife, Joanne, fought off and chased the other through the couple's home.
S. Ann Brobst, an assistant state's attorney, told jurors that the number of shots fired was the most disturbing fact about the case.
"There was no reason that she had to keep firing over and over and over and over and over again," Ms. Brobst said. "It takes time to thinkclearly as you unload a handgun into a elderly gentleman who is unarmed."
As the verdict was read, the courtroom erupted in loud rumbling and the defendant's mother, Diane Dressel, fainted in the aisle as spectators gawked.
Levering was led to a jail cell. Her mother, who prosecutors said had previously slit her wrists in distress over her daughter's arrest, was tended by a paramedic, but she refused to be taken to a hospital.
Levering, the mother of two girls ages 3 and 9, also was convicted of the attempted murder of Mrs. Webb, attempted robbery, burglary and using a handgun to commit a felony. She faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Levering's accomplice in the murder, Thomas Crawford, 30, of Gardenville, was convicted Monday of the same crimes.
Levering and Crawford, former lovers, were tried separately after they implicated one another in the fatal robbery attempt and family and friends recanted statements to police to corroborate their conflicting alibis.
"This defendant's family and friends have circled the wagons and formed a front," said Ms. Brobst, the prosecutor, after witnesses confirmed Levering's testimony that she had been with her mother the night of the murder.
Ms. Dressel testified that her daughter had nursed her through a severe angina attack that night, although the older woman previously told police that Levering and Crawford left the family home that night after dinner.
Levering never mentioned having cared for her mother when police questioned her after her arrest.
She testified that she "neglected to mention a lot of trivial things" during the interrogation because she was very emotional and upset. Atthat time, Levering told police that she had played pool all night at a bar.
Robert Kelly, the state's star witness, testified that Levering had confessed to killing Mr. Webb when she and Crawford visited him the night of the murder. Mr. Kelly said Levering told him she was "sorry I had to shoot him to protect Tommy."
Mr. Kelly notified police and received a reward for the information, which led to the arrest of Crawford and Levering two days after the slaying.
"Cindy Levering did not tell police about her visit with Kelly because she did not want the police to know about the man she had confessed to," Ms. Brobst said.
While in jail, Levering allegedly told a fellow inmate that she and Crawford wanted to rob the Webbs for money to buy drugs and that the police would never find the gun.
"These are things that only the murderer would know," the