Clark, On The Witness Stand, Denies Murder And Rape

April 17, 1991|By Jackie Powder | Jackie Powder,Staff writer

Taking the witness stand on the final day of testimony in his two-week trial, Vernon Lee Clark told a Circuit Court jury yesterday that he did not murder and rape 23-year-old Kathleen Patricia Gouldin.

Clark, 35, an Elkridge laborer charged with the July 3, 1989, shootingof Gouldin, said he spent the entire night taking drugs with friendsin Baltimore.

Prosecutors say Clark shot Gouldin in the chest through the window of her ground-floor Elkridge apartment and sexually assaulted her as she lay bleeding.

Clark testified that he began the evening of July 3 eating pizza with friends at their home on Elkridge Landing Road, just over the Howard County line.

After he left with the leftover pizza, Clark said, he visited a friend's house near the Elkridge Pharmacy and went to the parking lot of Gouldin's apartment building.

There, Clark said, he smoked a mixture of cocaine and morphine. Hethen stopped by his home on Furnace Road, picked up clothes and wentto Baltimore, where he took more cocaine and morphine with friends from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Clark's recounting of the events of July 3 contradicts earlier testimony from inmates who spoke with Clark at the Howard County Detention Center and from police detectives who interviewed him before he was charged with Gouldin's murder.

Damon Brooks, who was jailed at the Howard County Detention Center from January through April on a charge of assault with intent to murder, testified Monday that he spoke with Clark several times there.

In late February, Clark admitted to the killing but said that prosecutors didn't have any evidence against him, Brooks testified.

He also testified about a conversation with Clark last week at the detention facility at the courthouse in which Clark said that "even though our bodies were touching, they couldn't find one of my pubic hairs on her, or inthe car or in the carpet."

In return for his testimony, Brooks was released on personal recognizance from the detention center, wherehe was being held on $100,000 bond. Prosecutors said the state's attorney's office has also offered him a plea agreement in which they will seek a maximum sentence of seven years instead of 10.

Anthony Castranda, an acquaintance of Clark's and a former inmate at the detention center, testified last week that Clark told him he had taken theshotgun used in the killing back to work. Police believe the gun used came from the Carroll Braun rendering plant, where Clark worked. Castranda also testified that he saw a shotgun in the back of Clark's white station wagon when Clark gave him a ride shortly before July 3,1989.

FBI firearms experts testified that the mineral compositionof the pellets obtained from Gouldin's body was similar to the composition of pellets seized by police at the rendering plant.

Clark denied speaking to Brooks and Castranda about the charges against him.Clark and his employers at the plant testified that he was scared ofguns and never touched the weapon at the plant.

Police arrested Clark on Jan. 26, 1990, on his way to his job at the Braun plant in Elkridge, where he had worked as an animal skinner for 10 years. The pizza box found outside Gouldin's apartment helped police identify Clark as a suspect in the case. The box bears the name of the woman withwhom Clark shared the pizza.

Jury deliberations in the case are expected to begin today.

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