Trial Opens In Killing, Rape Of 23-year-old

April 03, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

Kathleen Patricia Gouldin spent the last night of her life eating crabs with her parents and her sister, Mary Bock, at the family's home on Washington Boulevard in Elkridge.

The next morning, July 4, 1989, Bock found her 23-year-old sister lying in a pool of blood on the floor of her apartment, less than one-half mile away.

"I looked at her face, it was a bloody mess; I knew she was

dead," Bock testified yesterday in Circuit Court at the murder trial ofVernon Lee Clark, the man accused of killing her sister.

Clark, 35, faces first-degree murder, rape and numerous sexual assault charges in the death of Gouldin, who worked as an assistant manager at Fat Tuesday's nightclub in Baltimore.

Gouldin was shot once in the chest with a shotgun shortly after going to bed at her apartment, in the6100 block of Old Washington Boulevard.

In her opening statement,Assistant State's Attorney Christine Gage told the jury of the state's theory that Clark shot Gouldin through her first-floor bedroom window and then sexually assaulted her as she lay bleeding.

A key piece of evidence against Clark, Gage said, are results of FBI tests that show the DNA taken from Clark's blood matches the DNA of semen taken from Gouldin's body.

DNA is the genetic material that shapes andidentifies a person's cells.

She said that Clark had admitted to police that he was outside Gouldin's apartment July 3.

The state intends to present evidence that will make it "absolutely clear that Kathleen Gouldin's life ended when this defendant fired a shotgun through her bedroom window," Gage said.

Barbara Kreinar, Clark's public defender, said the state's evidence does not support its theory of the murder.

"You will find that evidence is missing, that evidencedoes not make any sense at all," she said. "What's missing is anyonewho saw the crime, anyone who heard a shotgun blast on July 3."

Clark has consistently maintained his innocence since he was charged last January, Kreinar said, and will take the witness stand in his owndefense.

"He does not have a lot of learning, a lot of ability," Kreinar said of Clark. "But he will allow prosecutors to question himwith all of their learning and all their lawyering experience."

In two interviews with The Howard County Sun last year, Clark admittedto being a heavy drug user and to using drugs on the night of Gouldin's death, but he denied killing anyone.

Clark told a reporter that he consumed significant quantities of cocaine and morphine late July 3 and that he was physically incapacitated at the time of the crime.

Police arrested Clark on Jan. 26, 1990, on his way to his job atthe Carroll Braun rendering plant in Elkridge, where he had worked as an animal skinner for 10 years.

A pizza box found outside Gouldin's apartment several hours after the crime helped police identify Clark as a suspect in the case, Gage said. The box bears the name of a woman who ate pizza with Clark that night. She is expected to testifythat he left her house with the pizza box.

Gage said FBI lab tests indicate that the mineral composition of shotgun pellets obtained from Gouldin's body matches that of pellets in shells seized by policeat the rendering plant.

The trial, before Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr., is expected to last two weeks.

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