LEONARDTOWN / — LEONARDTOWN -- After just one day of testimony, a St. Mary's County Circuit Court judge declared John F. Thanos guilty last night of the 1990 robbery and murder of a young Eastern Shore welder who had given him a ride.
Judge Marvin S. Kaminetz found Thanos guilty of first-degree murder, felony murder, armed robbery, a handgun violation and theft in the Aug. 31, 1990, slaying of Gregory A. Taylor, 18, of Hebron.
The judge scheduled sentencing for tomorrow. Thanos, 42, faces a possible death sentence.
B. Randall Coates, the Worcester County state's attorney, called eight witnesses to the stand, including the victim's mother, and played a videotaped confession that Thanos gave to state police after his arrest.
One witness, Edward Mason, 20, of Laurel, Del., described a chilling encounter with Thanos just before police arrested Thanos Sept. 4, 1990.
Mr. Mason said he gave Thanos a ride and the man pulled a gun on him and described killing Mr. Taylor.
"He said a boy had picked him up hitchhiking, and he [the victim] wasn't cool," Mr. Mason testified. "He said the boy was crying and pleading for his life and he [Thanos] couldn't stand crybabies."
Thanos was sentenced last year to more than 100 years in prison for kidnapping and robbing a Salisbury cabdriver and wounding a Salisbury convenience store clerk.
In January, he was convicted of killing two Middle River teen-agers during a Labor Day 1990 holdup in Baltimore County, and faces death in that case at sentencing June 1 in Garrett County Circuit Court.
The owner of a Salisbury sporting goods store testified yesterday that he sold Thanos a .22-caliber assault rifle for $170.
A shell casing found at the murder scene was fired from that rifle, a state police ballistics expert found.
Lois Dennis, the mother of Mr. Taylor, testified briefly at the beginning of the trial.
She identified her son's wallet and a photograph of him. She last saw him leaving for work the morning of Aug. 31. Ms. Dennis sat through most of the day's testimony but left the courtroom in tears during the viewing of the videotaped confession.
The video shows a tired, yawning Thanos calmly describing how he killed Mr. Taylor after the young man had given him a ride.
Thanos was released 18 months prematurely from prison April 4, 1990, because corrections officials miscalculated his sentence for armed robbery.