Man tells jury that exotic dancer died by accident

September 26, 1992|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

Charged with first-degree murder and facing a possible death sentence if convicted, Michael Anthony Cutlip yesterday told a Baltimore County Circuit Court jury that he did not strangle an exotic dancer from Essex -- the woman died accidentally while they were having sex.

Mr. Cutlip, 24, described the last moments of Joie Lynn Wisdom's life in a quiet, emotionless monotone. He said he went to Miss Wisdom's apartment on the night of Dec. 2, 1990, to retrieve a leather jacket he'd lent to his girlfriend, who was Miss Wisdom's roommate.

Before they had sex, Mr. Cutlip said, Miss Wisdom, 19, received two telephone calls. When a county prosecutor asked him whether he had overheard any part of those phone calls, Mr. Cutlip became indignant.

"She was having a private conversation, sir," he said. "I'm not an eavesdropper."

Mr. Cutlip said that after he helped Miss Wisdom take a white tag from the back of her black miniskirt, they embraced and kissed. Miss Wisdom led him into her bedroom, where she performed oral sex on him.

Moments later, he said, Miss Wisdom asked him to wrap a white electrical cord around her neck, which she tied into a knot. He then performed oral sex on her, he said. Afterward, they had intercourse, and Miss Wisdom asked him to tighten the cord. Then, he said, she stopped him, brought a hair dryer from the bathroom and had him tie that cord around her neck.

"We were having sex and stuff," Mr. Cutlip told the jury of 11 women and one man. "Both of us were participating. Then, I don't know long it was, but she wasn't participating."

He said he realized something was wrong. "I shook her a little bit, and called her name. . . . I think I sat her up, but she fell off the bed. . . . I started really getting scared. I noticed she wasn't breathing," he continued. "I freaked out."

Rather than call 911 for help or try to take the electrical cords from around her neck, Mr. Cutlip scribbled "The Caller" on a piece of paper and left it with the body. He said he knew she had been receiving anonymous obscene phone calls. To explain his actions, he said, "I knew she was dead. . . . I knew I'd be in trouble for it."

Under cross-examination, Mr. Cutlip said he had never engaged in this type of sex before. He said he really didn't like Miss Wisdom, whom he thought caused his girlfriend to leave him, and said he never intended to have sex with her.

When asked why he slept with her, Mr. Cutlip replied, "Well, sir, she was a beautiful girl, appearance-wise."

Mr. Cutlip's testimony ended the defense's case. The trial will resume Tuesday.

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