LEONARDTOWN C — LEONARDTOWN -- Facing a possible death sentence and given his last chance to plead for his life, convicted killer John Frederick Thanos told a St. Mary's County judge today he'd prefer a life sentence over death -- if that sentence included the "possibility for escape."
Thanos, 42, also urged Judge Marvin S. Kaminetz to "render a fast and speedy opinion." The judge convicted Thanos last week of robbing and killing Gregory A. Taylor, Jr., 18, a welder from Hebron in Wicomico County.
"I don't think it should take you too long," Thanos told the judge during a brief appearance. "You've had all weekend to think about it."
Defense Attorney James McCarthy said Thanos' statement was an "illustration" of the diagnosis of two defense experts, who said the convicted killer suffers from a "borderline personality disorder."
"I indicated earlier," Mr. McCarthy said, "that in this country, we don't kill sick people. And John Thanos is a sick person."
In his closing arguments, B. Randall Coates, the state's attorney for Worcester County, calmly went through the Maryland death penalty statute and said, "John Thanos' actions are so outrageous that the only appropriate sentence is death."
Mr. Coates called the killing of Mr. Taylor "an execution" that demands Thanos should "suffer the ultimate penalty."
Mr. Taylor had given Thanos a ride Aug. 31, 1991, on U.S. 50 near Salisbury.
Thanos, in a video-taped confession, later described robbing and killing the youth.