Defense Wants Murder Confession Barred

October 16, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

Legal maneuvering in the Steven Gregory Anderson capital case moved into the courtroom yesterday, with defense lawyers asking a judge to throw out the accused murderer's confession.

"I killed her, man, but I don't want to talk about it," Anderson said, according to testimony from county police Detective Donald J. Hauf.

Defense lawyers pounced on that quote in a bid to persuade a judge to bar discussion of the confession in Anderson's upcoming trial. Assistant Public Defender Robert H. Waldman said police improperly continued to question Anderson after the suspect had exercised his rightto terminate the interview.

But Hauf countered that he interpreted Anderson's remark to mean that he didn't want to talk about detailsof the killing, and not that he wanted to end the questioning.

The exchange took place in county Circuit Court on what had been the scheduled starting day of Anderson's trial. He faces the gas chamber inconnection with the September 1990 rape and slaying of Gwyn Dixon Criswell, a 41-year-old mother of two from Crofton who went grocery shopping on a Sunday morning and was never again seen alive.

The trial has been postponed until Feb. 4 and the two sides were unable to finish presenting evidence on a long list of pretrial defense motions yesterday. The pretrial hearing is scheduled to resume Oct. 30. Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr. has not yet ruled on any of the motions.

Among the remaining issues to be argued in court is the defense contention that the state should be barred from seeking the death penalty because Anderson, who is described as HIV-positive, likely would die of AIDS before he could be executed.

Defense lawyers say their medicalexperts will testify Anderson is likely to die in about eight years -- the minimum time for the appeal process to run its course in capital cases.

Defense lawyers say subjecting Anderson to the death penalty is "absurd" and a waste of money. In court documents, Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia M. Ferris contends a defendant's life expectancy is irrelevant.

Also left to be argued at the Oct. 30 hearing is a defense motion, filed yesterday, asking the judge to dismiss theAnderson case because the county's jury selection system is unconstitutional. Waldman and Assistant Public Defender Gary W. Christopher contend their client cannot get a fair trial because he will not be tried before a jury representing a cross-section of the community.

The lawyers blame the practice of selecting prospective jurors from voter-registration rolls that have not, in recent years, reflected census figures that show the county is 11.2 percent black.

Christophersaid the tactic has been tried, without success, in cases in Prince George's and Somerset counties. "It's done in jurisdictions where we think there is a legitimate shot," he said. "There is a legitimate perception there is a problem here in this county. It is a death penalty case and we feel we have to pursue it."

In yesterday's hearing, county police officers took the stand to describe Anderson's arrest after he had been spotted near Criswell's car within hours of her disappearance. Hauf then said Anderson admitted killing the woman.

"Hestated, 'Her body is at Crofton Park,' " the detective said, adding,"He proceeded to give us very elaborate, detailed directions to a location within the park."

Hauf said he asked Anderson if he shot the woman with a handgun found by police in her car. "He replied, 'I didn't shoot her. There won't be any blood,' " the detective testified.

The following day, police found the woman's body near the Croftonlibrary. She had been strangled.

A nearby resident, Lewis Gorham,testified he startled a man walking near the library within an hour of when Criswell was last seen alive. Choosing from an array of photographs provided by police, Gorham selected Anderson as the man walking near the library.

But Waldman suggested that Gorham saw a man police found living in his car in the park.

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