Relatives of Tirado asking he be spared Prosecutors say the man who killed state trooper deserves death penalty.

July 26, 1991|By Raymond L. Sanchez | Raymond L. Sanchez,Evening Sun Staff

Relatives of Eric Joseph Tirado, convicted last week of murdering a Maryland state trooper, today were to ask a Howard County jury to spare his life.

The Circuit Court jury yesterday heard from the prosecution, which said aggravating circumstances in the March 1990 shooting were sufficient to bring a death sentence. The state concluded after submitting emotional written statements from Wolf's survivors, who apparently will not address the jury directly.

Circuit Judge Raymond J. Kane Jr. said the jury could begin deliberating late today or Monday morning.

The victim impact statements, were written by Wolf's widow, Virginia, and his parents, Leroy and Jane.

Part of Virginia Wolf's statement was read in court Wednesday. "I speculate on the pain he must have felt as he sat there dying and how long a period of time elapsed before it was finally over," she wrote.

Prosecutor Michael Rexroad said evidence from the five-week trial showed Tirado fired the two shots that killed Wolf. He said the prosecution proved several aggravating circumstances -- required for the death penalty -- including that Wolf was killed while on duty and in the course of a robbery.

Tirado, 27, a New York City resident who dropped out of the police academy, was convicted of first-degree murder, robbery with a deadly weapon and use of a handgun during a felony after about five hours of jury deliberations.

"The aggravating circumstances, without question, outweigh the mitigating circumstances," Rexroad said. "The verdict of death is the only appropriate sentence in this case."

Defense lawyer Mark Van Bavel cited as mitigating circumstances that Tirado has not been previously convicted of a violent crime and his client's age. It is unlikely that Tirado will pose a future danger to society -- another mitigator, he said.

"What society means to this man," said Van Bavel, pointing to his client, "and what society means to us are two different things. His society will never reach beyond whatever the Maryland Division of Correction decides -- the South Wing of the Maryland Penitentiary . . . Will he present a danger to that society?"

The victim impact statements will "hit you and your eyes will get wet and your stomach will turn," Van Bavel said, asking the jury to put their emotions on hold.

Van Bavel said he would call to the stand Tirado's father and other relatives today.

Tirado elected yesterday to let the jury instead of the judge decide his fate. He could be sentenced to life without parole.

Wolf was shot twice in the face as he sat in his cruiser on Interstate 95 near Jessup. The trooper had stopped Tirado and another man, Francisco Rodriguez, 21, for speeding. Rodriguez will be tried later.

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