2nd-degree murder verdict returned in stabbing death

March 31, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

3/8 TC After deliberating about 6 1/2 hours, a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury yesterday convicted 39-year-old Alfred Smith Jr. of second-degree murder in the stabbing death of Thomas Eugene Sullivan last Sept. 14.

Mr. Sullivan, 23, of the 900 block of Honeywood Place was stabbed more than 25 times in the chest and back.

Smith, formerly of Luff Court in Essex, said nothing as the jury pronounced him guilty. Judge Joseph Murphy Jr. ordered a pre-sentence report and set sentencing for June 1.

Under Maryland law, the maximum sentence Smith could receive is 30 years in prison.

Michael DiPietro, the prosecutor in the case, had urged the jury to find Smith guilty of first-degree murder, saying the number of stab wounds indicated Smith had time to consider his actions.

When asked later about the second-degree verdict, Mr. DiPietro said, "It's a tough decision. . . . It's not an unreasonable verdict, considering the evidence."

Smith, testifying on his own behalf Friday, said Mr. Sullivan had broken into Smith's home, killed his cat, stole $250 from him and then stabbed Smith in the hand, starting the fight.

Both men, according to Smith, went for the knife, but Smith grabbed it first. "He kept hitting me beside the head and in the ribs," Smith testified.

"And I kept stabbing him. I was scared. I thought Tommy was going to kill me when he stabbed me," Smith said.

Under cross-examination, Smith was asked why he stabbed Mr. Sullivan more than 25 times during the fight.

Smith said he couldn't remember. "I just stabbed him until he stopped," he repeated.

Smith, who was convicted in 1976 of fatally shooting a Havre de Grace man, said he allowed two neighbors to talk him out of calling police, and he accepted their help in cleaning up his apartment and disposing of the body.

Because of a new rule that went into effect Jan. 1, prosecutors could not bring up Smith's earlier murder conviction when he testified. He served six years of a 15-year sentence for the Havre de Grace murder.

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