Defendant thought boy was Antichrist Man on trial in slaying of boy and his mother.

October 16, 1991|By Norris P. West | Norris P. West,Evening Sun Staff

A Laurel man who killed a 7-year-old boy with a double-edged knife and fatally shot the boy's mother last January was high on the drug PCP and thought the child was the Antichrist, his lawyer said.

The description came yesterday during opening statements in the trial of Melvin McMains, 37.

McMains is charged with first-degree murder in the slayings of Caria Roth, 30, and her son, Christopher Roth, at the apartment they all shared in the 9100 block of Bourbon St. in Laurel's Whiskey Bottom section.

Anthony Lyons, McMains' public defender, told a Howard County Circuit Court jury that McMains was in a drug-induced delusional state when he killed the mother and son.

"He was not in his right mind," Lyons said of his client. "He didn't know what he was doing."

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for McMains. Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell suggested in her questioning of police witnesses that McMains was not so disoriented by drugs that he could not function well.

Lyons told the jury that McMains had started to hallucinate from phencyclidine, or PCP, about a week before the murders. He had a vision of Roth frozen in a snowbank in Russia and the next day thought there was a demonic battle at his workplace.

The day before the murders, Lyons said, Roth went to work at a bar in Laurel, and McMains read the Bible to Christopher.

The lawyer said Roth returned about 4:30 a.m., and that the couple talked, declared their love for each other, watched a religious program on television and smoked PCP and marijuana. Then, things went bizarre.

"He got up. He didn't know why. He went into the bedroom," Lyons told the jury as McMains sat at the defense table. "He said, in his own words, Chris was the Antichrist."

He said McMains also thought Roth was trying to kill him, and so he grabbed a gun, crawled on the floor as if he were being pursued by another armed person, and began firing shots into the hall. He reloaded the gun and shot Roth to death, Lyons said.

McMains then took a double-edged knife from a shoe box because he believed the instrument was needed to kill the Antichrist, he said. He went into Christopher's bedroom and stabbed him to death.

The man then went into the living room and watched television again. A minister was on the air, the lawyer said, and the preacher appeared to be putting McMains on trial for the killings.

"The preacher said: 'You're born again, for the third time,' " Lyons said. "He became at peace with himself."

McMains placed both bodies on the couch and went upstairs to report the murders to police. He said it was an hour before officers arrived, at 8:30 a.m.

County narcotics detective Charles Jacobs testified that after he arrived at the apartment he was told by McMains, "I have sinned."

"I asked him if anyone was inside," Jacobs said. "He said, 'Yes. No. I have killed everyone.' "

Under direct examination by O'Donnell, Jacobs said McMains appeared calm, had no trouble walking or keeping his balance and responded well to questions.

The trial was to continue today in the courtroom of Judge Cornelius F. Sybert Jr.

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