A Baltimore County jury took five hours to find Harvey Allen Teets Jr. guilty of second-degree murder last night in the bludgeoning death of a guard on the rural St. Timothy's School campus in February.
Teets, known as "J.R.," faces a maximum penalty of 30 years for killing Kimberly R. Kenna, 23, who was beaten to death in a guard shack and her half-clothed body dumped into a pond 20 yards away.
An assistant public defender, Patricia L. Chappell, asked for a delay in sentencing to allow her time to prepare psychological evidence on Teets, 28, a groundskeeper at the private high school on Greenspring Avenue in Stevenson.
The prosecution's case centered on bloodstains on Teets' work boots and a wooden club, and the testimony of a cellmate who provided the jury with a detailed account of the murder that the defendant had given to him.
The cellmate, David Lotridge, 24, of Baltimore, said Teets told him he was angry at females because of problems with his wife. According to the cellmate, Teets said he became enraged after drinking whiskey and beer and smoking cocaine in Baltimore and in his home town of Manchester and drove to the school in Stevenson, where he surprised Ms. Kenna in the tiny guard shack andbeat her to death with a chair leg that he kept in his car as a club.
The defense argued that the evidence against Teets was circumstantial. Assistant Public Defender Wendy A. Zerwitz also dismissed Mr. Lotridge, who had charges against him in an unrelated assault reduced in exchange for his testimony, as someone looking for a deal.
"This was a brutal, senseless, horrible act," she told the jury, "but do not let that cloud your judgment . . . no matter how badly and how desperately society wants somebody to pay for this act."
The small courtroom was filled throughout the four-day trial by Ms. Kenna's and Teets' relatives and friends, who often wept quietly during testimony.
Ms. Kenna moved to the Baltimore area from her native Pittsburgh and began working at the school in September 1990.