Woman Killed To Stop Abusive Husband, Lawyer Says

26-year-old From Glen Burnie Enters Alford Plea

November 08, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

Years of psychological abuse led a 26-year-old Glen Burnie woman to murder her husband last May, the woman's lawyer said yesterday.

Jane Marie Ostovitz, seven months pregnant with the dead man's child, pleaded guilty yesterday in county Circuit Court to second-degree murder in the shooting of Kenneth Edwin Ostovitz.

Attorney George Lantzas said he will present evidence of the husband's abusive behavior in preparation for the woman's sentencing, scheduled for Jan. 3. A law enacted earlier this year allows evidence about "spousal abuse syndrome" -- a psychological condition developed by some women who feel trapped in abusive relationships -- into Maryland courtrooms.

Lantzas said there was "some suggestion" some physical abuse had occurred, but he said, "I think we're going to show that in some instances the greatest abuse is psychological abuse.

"Hewas always throwing her out of the house. He would call her names infront of her friends. He would throw food," Lantzas said. "Terrible pressures and degradations resulted in a very tragic accident where she was not in complete control. . . . If she had been thinking clearly she would not have squeezed the trigger of a handgun she thought wasn't loaded."

During the hearing, Assistant State's Attorney Ronald M. Naditch said "arguments had punctuated" the couple's five-year marriage. The prosecutor said the husband had "continually questioned her about her fidelity" and had been heard to talk of committing suicide.

He said substance abuse by both partners apparently was a factor in their combative relationship. Lantzas said the couple had no children.

Naditch described the killing and surrounding events in an agreed statement of facts that was based largely on what the woman told police who arrived after the shooting. While Naditch addressed the court, the woman held her head down and appeared to be shaking.

The day before the killing, an argument prompted the woman to leave the couple's home in the 7200 block of Crown Road, Naditch said. During that dispute, the husband threw the woman's clothes on the front lawn.

The woman returned and the couple briefly reconciled before resuming their squabbling. During that argument, the man tossed a .357Magnum on a water bed and said, "Go ahead. Shoot me," Naditch said.

While the man watched television from the bed, the woman shot him once in the head, the prosecutor said. The man died of a single gunshot wound to the right temple, he said.

Ostovitz entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant does not admit guilt but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to convict. Under the plea agreement, prosecutors will recommend the woman be sentenced to no more than 13 yearsin prison. All other charges against the woman were dropped.

Lantzas explained the decision to accept the plea in favor of raising thespousal abuse argument during a trial. He said he wanted to avoid the possibility of a conviction for using a handgun in a violent crime,which carries a mandatory sentence of five years without parole.

The defense attorney would not say what sentence he will seek, but hesaid, "Obviously we'd like to see her out in less than five years."

Ostovitz remains free on bond pending sentencing.

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