Suspect's sister alters story in trial for '81 Essex slaying

January 04, 1992|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

The sister of a man charged with murder flew from Turkey to testify yesterday that she was angry at her brother and suicidal in 1982 when she went to Baltimore County police and repeated what he had told her about shooting a man.

Linda Weitzel Gross said her brother, Jack Douglas Mayhew, always made up wild stories. She said she "added a lot and exaggerated" this one, and went along with facts about the case that the officers told her.

Ms. Gross testified yesterday at her brother's trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court on a charge of first-degree murder in the April 1981 death of Joseph E. Jackson.

"I don't remember. . . . It's been 10 years," she said repeatedly, as Assistant State's Attorney Jason League pressed her to stand by the statement she had initialed page by page in September 1982.

"I just remember him telling me something about a shooting, and a police officer, and a neighbor," Mrs. Gross told the jury, ". . . and if Mr. League hadn't let me see my statement, I wouldn't even recall that." In the statement, she said her brother told her he'd been paid $2,000 for the murder.

The prosecutor challenged her renunciation of the statement, then called two police officers to say they had told Mrs. Gross nothing about the facts in the fatal shooting of Mr. Jackson, 32, who was ambushed in his back yard in the 2100 block of Riverview Road, Essex.

The prosecution said Mayhew was hired to do the killing by Mr. Jackson's next-door neighbor, former city police officer Robert Francis Ewing, who was feuding with Mr. Jackson. Mayhew, 40, is serving a 25-year sentence for burglary. Ewing, 45, was convicted of murder last year in Mr. Jackson's death and received a 30-year sentence.

Acting Public Defender Amanda Bull moved successfully to limit testimony to the jury by Albert Charles Sievers, now of Jacksonville, Fla. Mr. Sievers testified with the jury out that he knew Ewing as a security guard at Pimlico racetrack who complained that his neighbor had been exposing himself to Ewing's children and said he wanted the neighbor "confronted."

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