The jury that found a North Laurel man guilty of murdering his girlfriend and her 7-year-old son must now decide if he should receive thedeath penalty for his crimes.
Melvin McMains, 37, was convicted last month of two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of CariaRoth and her son, Christopher, on Jan. 13.
In the sentencing phase of the trial, which began yesterday, the jury must determine whether McMains will receive a sentence of life in prison without parole, life with a chance of parole, or the death penalty. Jurors could sentence McMains by the end of the week.
McMains' public defender, Barbara Kreinar, told the jury that when McMains shot Roth and stabbed Christopher to death, he was suffering from amental disorder brought on by smoking the drug PCP, or phencyclidinehydrochloride.
Kreinar explained that under Maryland law, voluntary drug use is not available as a defense or relevant in determining guilt or innocence.
However, Kreinar said McMains' drug use shouldbe considered a mitigating factor. She said a psychiatrist will testify for the defense that McMains was suffering from a drug-induced psychosis at the time of the killings.
"He was delusional, unable toappreciate the criminality of his conduct and unable to conform it to the requirements of the law," Kreinar said.
She urged the jurorsto sentence McMains to life in prison and said that his former wife,his former father-in-law, his former employer and co-workers, and supervisors from the Howard County Detention Center will testify duringthe sentencing phase on McMains' behalf.
Kreinar said that McMains' 10-year-old daughter comes to visit him every week in jail.
"It's important," Kreinar said. "It shows there's some good in him."
During its sentencing deliberations, the jury also will consider a victim impact statement from Roth's mother and Christopher's grandmother. Senior Assistant State's Attorney Kate O'Donnell read the statement in court yesterday.
"Each day, I look at my two grandsons and amreminded of the loss of the third," the statement said.