A 27-year-old Northwest Baltimore man was convicted yesterday of stabbing a Diamond cab driver to death and stealing his Bible and other religious possessions during a robbery.
After deliberating almost three hours, the Baltimore Circuit Court jury found Tracey Higginbotham of the 3000 block of West Belvedere Avenue guilty of first-degree murder and armed robbery in the death of Lyle G. Roberts, 56.
Higginbotham is to be sentenced April 3. The maximum sentence for first-degree murder is life imprisonment; for armed robbery, 20 years.
During closing arguments yesterday, Higginbotham's defense attorney said his client was too intoxicated to be aware of his actions when Mr. Roberts was killed May 31, 1991. He said the killing could not have been premeditated.
"The issue in this case revolves around the tragedy of cocaine," said Brian Denton, the defense attorney.
The night of the murder, Higginbotham was "lit up like a Christmas tree," Mr. Denton said.
But Assistant State's Attorney Ahmet Hisim said Higginbotham knew exactly what he was doing. Higginbotham had smoked crack cocaine before the killing earlier and decided that he needed money to buy more, he said. "He'd do anything to get that money," Mr. Hisim said.
He said that Higginbotham stopped Mr. Roberts and got inside his cab. He then stabbed Mr. Roberts in the neck and stole his bag containing a Bible, the Koran and anointing oil. The $190 in Mr. Roberts' shirt pocket remained untouched, Mr. Hisim said.
Mr. Roberts of the 3600 block of Garrison Boulevard managed to leave his cab, yank out the knife and yell for help before dying.
During the trial, the state presented evidence that included Higginbotham's handprint, which was recovered inside the cab, and a bag that contained a pay stub belonging to Higginbotham. His taped confession to police was also admitted.
"The sad part about it is [Mr. Roberts probably would have given] him the $190," Mr. Hisim said.