When the body was found in October at the Fort Holabird Industrial Park, George Wischhusen did not wait for the police to come to him. He went to them -- and began laying the groundwork for a life sentence by telling what authorities describe as a series of ever-changing stories.
Yesterday, a Baltimore Circuit Court judge called Wischhusen a liar and sentenced him to life plus 20 years in prison in the fatal shooting of 21-year-old Mark Alan Davis.
The sentence was handed down moments after Wischhusen, 25, issued yet another denial.
"I did not commit this crime," Wischhusen told Judge Thomas Ward. "Basically, I'm a quiet, laid-back person. That's all I have to say."
Judge Ward leaned forward and addressed the defendant in sharp tones.
"There's no question in my mind that you committed a dastardly, premeditated murder of a young man whose life was snuffed out," the judge said. "I do not think you are capable of telling the truth. The jury caught that fact."
Prosecutors have no motive for the murder of Mark Davis, whose body was found Oct. 8 on a footbridge off the 2200 block of Van Deman St. Mr. Davis, a former iron worker who had taken a job at a pizza shop, had been shot in the neck, the forehead and twice in the back. Denise M. Fili, an assistant state's attorney, called it an execution-style slaying.
She said Wischhusen, of the 4600 block of Harford Road, went to police within days of the shooting. She said word had gotten out that he'd been seen leaving a nearby tavern with the victim shortly before the shooting.
In a series of interviews with police, Wischhusen said his fishing buddy, William A. Schultz, was responsible for the shooting. But police became suspicious when the details in Wischhusen's story kept changing, and he, like Mr. Schultz, was charged in the murder.
A four-day jury trial earlier this month ended with Mr. Schultz being found guilty of possession of a handgun, but not guilty of murder. Mr. Schultz received a three-year suspended sentence for the handgun violation.
Wischhusen, on the other hand, was convicted of first-degree murder and using a handgun in a crime of violence. At the sentencing yesterday, the defendant's father, George Wischhusen Sr., angrily accused police of bungling the investigation and lying on the witness stand.
"My son is innocent," the elder Mr. Wischhusen said, adding that his neighbors in Dundalk have been shocked by the notion that his son could be a killer.
The elder Wischhusen said he continues to investigate the case, adding: "If the police in the case had done their job and found out half of what I found out recently, this would have turned out differently."
Ms. Fili, the prosecutor, said a witness saw Wischhusen running from a wooded area near the murder scene with a gun shortly after the shooting. The witness also saw Mr. Schultz, when he emerged from the woods a few minutes later, saying he couldn't believe Wischhusen shot the man.