Almost two years after her youngest daughter was found shot to deathin her Elkridge apartment, Margaret Gouldin can finally begin to puta small part of the pain behind her.
On Wednesday, after a two-week trial, a County Circuit Court jury found Vernon Lee Clark guilty of first-degree murder in the July 3, 1989 death of 23-year-old Kathleen Patricia Gouldin, a manager at Fat Tuesday's restaurant in Baltimore.
"I'm glad it's over, it's been a long time and we've suffered a lot," said Gouldin after the jury announced its verdict following 3 hours and 20 minutes of deliberation.
Using a 20-gauge shotgun, Clark fired at Gouldin through her bedroom window as she lay in bed and then sexually assaulted her, prosecutors said.
Clark, 35, also was found guilty of assault with intent to rape, perverted practices and carrying a dangerous weapon. The state will seek a sentence of life without parole at Clark's sentencing on June 18 before Judge Raymond J. Kane.
During the trial, prosecutors relied heavily on testimony from an
FBI forensic expert who said that DNA taken from Clark's blood matched the DNA in seminal fluid found in Gouldin's body.
Based on the test results, the probability of finding another black person with the same DNA profile is one in 300,000.
Another state witness, who was jailed with Clark at the Howard County Detention Center,testified that Clark admitted to him that he killed Gouldin, but said the state didn't have any evidence against him.
Police witnessessaid that Clark told them in interviews that he had been at the parking lot of Gouldin's apartment building before and had looked in her window.
An FBI firearms expert testified the pellets taken from Gouldin's body were similar in composition to the pellets seized by police at the Carrol Braun rendering plant, where Clark worked as an animal skinner for 10 years.
Clark and his employers at the plant testified that he was scared of guns and refused to touch the weapon at the plant.
Testifying in his own defense, Clark admitted to takingdrugs in the parking lot of Gouldin's apartment the night of her death, but denied any involvement in the killing.
The defense challenged the reliability of the state's DNA testimony and attempted to discredit the state's inmate witnesses who testified against Clark.
Barbara Kreinar, Clark's public defender, theorized that Gouldin knew her killer because there was no evidence of forced entry into her apartment.
Police were able to identify Clark as a suspect in the case from names on a pizza box found outside Gouldin's apartment building.
Gouldin was the youngest daughter in a family of eight children.
Her apartment in the old Elkridge Elementary School was only a few blocks from the brown-shingled home where she was born and raised.
She was the only daughter to move out of her parents' home before she was married.
Her murder prompted the Elkridge community to raise $6,000 in reward money for information about her killer.
Following Clark's arrest on Jan. 26, 1990, police re-opened the files on other unsolved Elkridge murders.
Clark formerly worked for Dolly Davis, an elderly woman found stabbed to death in 1980; however policesay they found no evidence to charge him with the crime.