Jane Tyson, 49, a Baltimore County teacher's aide and grandmother of six, was just finishing a pleasant summer evening shopping with two of her grandchildren.
As Tyson was settling herself in the driver's seat of her car, a man armed with a .38-caliber handgun accosted her on a secluded parking lot at Westview Mall.
The man shoved the weapon against Tyson's ear, Baltimore County State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor told a Circuit Court jury yesterday.
"He grabbed for her purse and slammed the bullet into her ear with such force that it ripped off part of her ear," O'Connor told the jury of seven women and five men.
As Tyson fell to the parking lot, bleeding to death, her grandchildren, a boy 6 and a girl 4, started screaming, O'Connor said. The gunman and an accomplice sped away in a truck.
The accused getaway driver, Gregory Lawrence, 34, of the first block of Cheviot Court in Woodlawn, is charged with the first-degree murder of Tyson, who was robbed of $10 and killed June 6. His trial began yesterday.
Judge James Smith is presiding over the trial, which resumes today.
In her opening statement, O'Connor promised to prove beyond a doubt that Lawrence helped commit the robbery and slaying and, therefore, is equally guilty of felony murder and first-degree murder.
Wesley Baker, 33, of the 1300 block of Homestead St. in the city, has been charged as the gunman in the shooting death and robbery of Tyson. He has not yet been tried.
In his opening statement, Harold Glaser, one of Lawrence's two defense attorneys, accused some of the jurors of looking at him and his client as if "we were nothing but ogres. Yet everyone of you took an oath to be impartial jurors."
"That my client will get a fair and just trial is all I'm asking for," he said. "This is my only shot to defend my client for a crime. I will suggest to you [that] he did not commit."
Tyson's husband, John, and other family members attended yesterday's proceedings.
They listened as O'Connor, who usually allows her assistant prosecutors to handle the courtroom work, recounted the grisly details of Tyson's killing.
"Ladies and gentleman," O'Connor said, "what this case is about is two men who took a summer evening family outing and turned it into a lifetime of tragedy for the Jane Tyson family."
Tyson, a resident of Westview Park, had gone to the mall to purchase shoes for her grandchildren, Adam and Carly. She parked in the rear parking lot because that was the closest entrance to the mall from her house.
After she was shot, a man who was nearby heard her grandchildren screaming, looked over and saw Tyson fall to the ground, said O'Connor.
That man, Scott Faust, a vending machine supervisor from Lansdowne, also saw two men jump into a blue Chevrolet S-10 Blazer, which sped off. Faust followed them,O'Connor said.
The men drove along Johnnycake Road to U.S. 40, where they turned toward the city, said O'Connor. Faust, driving closely behind them, jotted down the license number on a Kleenex box. He also pulled up alongside the Blazer to get a description of its occupants.
O'Connor said Faust then hurried back to the mall, where he gave the information to police. The information was broadcast, and two tacticalofficers, who had heard about the shooting on their police radios, saw a blue Blazer with two men inside drive past them.
The officers followed the Blazer into the city until it suddenly turned off onto Old Frederick Road. The passenger jumped out of the truck and ran. The driver stayed behind.
O'Connor said police found the weapon used to kill Tyson and the woman's bank machine card on the floor of the Blazer.