A Baltimore County jury must decide whether a Woodlawn man acted as a lookout in the fatal shooting of a teacher's aide in the Westview Mall parking lot or was an innocent man who thought he was taking a friend to buy a part for a VCR.
Gregory Lawrence, 34, of the first block of Cheviot Court, is charged with the first-degree murder of Jane Frances Tyson, 49, who was robbed of $10 and killed June 6 in front of two of her grandchildren in a secluded area of the parking lot.
Mr. Lawrence is accused of felony murder because Mrs. Tyson was killed in an armed robbery. He also is charged with the robbery and two handgun violations. The man accused of actually shooting Mrs. Tyson, Wesley Baker, 33, of the 1300 of Homestead Street in East Baltimore, will be tried separately on the same charges.
"This crime is about two men who took a summer evening shopping spree and turned it into a mindless, merciless murder at a mall," said Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor, one of two prosecutors in the case, who made the opening statement to the jury.
Mrs. Tyson was putting the shoes she'd bought for two of her grandchildren into her car when Mr. Baker approached from Mr. Lawrence's Chevrolet Blazer, parked 6 feet away, Ms. O'Connor said. He "shoved a .38-caliber loaded revolver into her ear, grabbed her purse and slammed a bullet into her head," she said.
Defense attorney Harold Glaser told the jury not to convict his client because the crime was horrendous, but to redirect their loathing to the man who shot Mrs. Tyson.
Mr. Lawrence worked at Springfield State Hospital Center and his wife is a correctional officer, Mr. Glaser said.
Mr. Lawrence had cooked dinner for his 5-year-old son when Mr. Baker called and asked him to come over to fix a VCR.
They went to the mall, where Mr. Lawrence dropped off Mr. Baker -- who later came running back with a purse, and Mr. Lawrence "got frightened and he fled," Mr. Glaser said.
"He did not know what Baker was going to do. He never watched. . . . The fleeing of Gregory Lawrence was because he was frightened to death," Mr. Glaser said.