Robert Patrick Lipinski has been found guilty of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Eugenia Courtalis, a 22-year-old Towson diet center employee.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge Dana M. Levitz rendered the verdict yesterday. He described the June 1, 1991, murder as "terrifying."
"The explanation that was given [by the defendant] doesn't make any sense," Judge Levitz said at the end of the two-day trial, adding: "That's what's so terrifying."
The body was discovered by police and family members June 2 in a rear file room of the Nutri-System Weight Loss Center at the Towson Marketplace in the 1200 block of Putty Hill Avenue. Miss Courtalis had been stabbed 12 times.
Lipinski, 27, of Dundalk, had waived his right to a jury trial. He testified in his own behalf yesterday.
Lipinski, who worked for the Genie Cleaning Service, was cleaning the Nutri-System center on the day of the slaying.
He testified that Miss Courtalis "came down [the hallway] and asked me if I was finished. . . . She had a nasty tone of voice . . . I couldn't stand it. . . . I said, 'Bitch, I'll be done in a minute.' "
Miss Courtalis then slapped him, scratching his face, Lipinski said.
"I was so shocked at being slapped that I called her 'bitch' a second time. She tried to slap me again, but I grabbed her arm and I stopped her . . . I just couldn't take it anymore. . . . We grabbed each other and threw each other into the wall."
Lipinski testified that he remembers making a "stabbing motion," but doesn't remember the knife. He said he has "blocked out" much of what happened that day.
Under questioning from his attorney, Walter F. Balint, Lipinski testified that at the time he suffered from stress caused by personal problems. Lipinski said his family was about to be evicted from its apartment and he faced other financial problems.
During cross-examination, prosecutor Robin S. Coffin equated Lipinski's memory lapse with lying, reminding him that, prior to his arrest, he told detectives that he had no recollection of the murder.
Police testified that it wasn't until the third interview that Lipinski recounted the events of the day of the slaying.
"So let me get this straight," Miss Coffin said, sarcastically. "You do remember what happened, is that right? . . . now you've had this sudden revelation?"
"Call it what you want," Lipinski replied.
Judge Levitz set sentencing for April 7. First-degree murder carries a maximum sentence of life without parole.