Second murder trial for Thanos Convicted killer's trial beginning today.

March 09, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

LEONARDTOWN -- John Frederick Thanos goes on trial here todaycharged in the kidnapping, robbery and murder of a teen-age motorist shot to death by a man to whom he had given a ride.

The motorist was Gregory Allen Taylor, 18, a welder from Salisbury, who was slain Aug. 31, 1990. The trial was moved here from the Eastern Shore because of pretrial publicity.

It was to begin with a motions hearing today before St. Mary's County Circuit Court Judge Marvin S. Kaminetz. Jury selection is to begin tomorrow, and may take several days.

Thanos, 42, would face the death penalty if convicted.

This is the second murder trial Thanos has faced this year.

In January, he was convicted by a Garrett County jury of the robbery and murder of Billy Winebrenner, 16, and Melody Pistorio, 14, who were gunned down during a 1990 Labor Day holdup in Baltimore County.

Thanos' death penalty sentencing hearing in Garrett County ended in mistrial, and he is scheduled to be resentenced there June 1.

In the trial here, prosecutors will use a videotaped confession, which police say Thanos gave them after his arrest.

A transcript of the confession, which has never before been made public, has been made a part of the court file in the case.

According to that 19-page transcript, Thanos said he was hitchhiking on U.S. 50 near Berlin on Aug. 31, 1990, when Mr. Taylor stopped to give him a ride.

Thanos said that after getting into the car he pulled a sawed-off .22-caliber semi-automatic rifle from a brown bag and ordered Mr. Taylor to hand over his wallet, according to the transcript.

After taking $5 from the wallet, according to the transcript, Thanos ordered Mr. Taylor to turn around and drive back toward Salisbury.

Thanos said he was looking for a place to turn off the road and tie up Mr. Taylor so that the young man couldn't report him to police, according to the transcript.

"I decided you know to, ah, take his car," Thanos said, on the video. "And I made him turn around and head back toward Salisbury, ah, looking for a place that I could, ah, tie him up safely, you know, where he couldn't squawk to authorities.

"He was a constant nuisance," Mr. Thanos said in the transcript.

"Whining; he didn't want to cooperate so I got fed up and just shot him in the head. I took him, found a place, laid him down. He still didn't want to be tied up, so I shot him three times, and I left him there."

A state trooper asked Thanos on the transcript if Mr. Taylor ever asked to be released.

"Yes," replied Thanos. "Several times. He said he wouldn't say anything and all that, and I said, 'Look, kid.' I said, 'I can't trust you.' I said, 'Talk is cheap.'

"I couldn't feel safe just to let him go out on the highways," Thanos said. "He promised he wouldn't say nothing, he'd give me time, but I knew that was a lot of horse . . . -- you know."

Thanos is serving more than a 100 years in prison for the armed robbery Aug. 29, 1990, of a Salisbury cab driver and the robbery and attempted murder Sept. 2, 1990, of a Salisbury convenience store clerk.

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