Mark Eberhardinger, shot once in the head, had been left for dead on the front seat of a car last December. His 20-year-old girlfriend lay dying behind the wheel with two bullets in her head.
In a Baltimore courtroom last week, Eberhardinger pointed out a former teammate on the Baltimore Bears semipro football team and identified him as the gunman.
Corey Lomax, 22, of the 1400 block of Bellona Ave., Lutherville, was convicted in Baltimore Circuit Court last Wednesday of the first-degree murder of Pakema Cokley, and the attempted first-degree murder of Eberhardinger, 28, on Dec. 15.
Lomax, who also was convicted of handgun charges, faces a maximum of two consecutive life prison terms plus 40 years when he is sentenced by Judge David B. Mitchell next month.
Last Tuesday, Eberhardinger, who still is playing football, described the shooting for the jury. "I felt like I got hit in the back of the head with a bat," he said. "I said, 'No, this can't be.' Once my vision came back, that's when I heard another pop."
Prosecutor H. Jerome Briscoe said Eberhardinger had purchased 2 1/2 grams of cocaine for Lomax the day of the shootings. Lomax then asked the couple to take him to a friend's home in the 2300 block of Pentland Drive.
Briscoe said it is a mystery why Lomax, from the back seat of Cokley's car, shot Eberhardinger and his girlfriend in a parking lot on Pentland Drive.
Jealousy was a possible motive, Briscoe told the jury, since Eberhardinger was a starting wide receiver for the Bears. Teammates knew Eberhardinger had been offered a tryout with a team in the World League of American Football. Lomax, a defensive back, was not a starter.
Briscoe suggested that race may have played a role. A Bears teammate testified that Lomax, who is black, had shown him a handgun in November and said he was going to "kill somebody white." Eberhardin ger is white.
"I just couldn't believe that Corey did that," Eberhardinger told the jury.
Cokley had been dating Eberhardinger 1 1/2 years, relatives said. An aspiring nurse, she worked at a health maintenance organization during the day and took evening courses at Howard Community College.
Her parents, Calvin and Francis Cokley, and her three sisters sat in court last week, sometimes dabbing tears from their eyes. Francis Cokley said the family was relieved by the verdict.
"It was a dreaded thing to have the trial hanging over us for these last few months," she said. "It was the final step and I can't tell how much it means to us to have this verdict."