Dontay Carter forged slaying victim Vitalis V. Pilius' signature on hotel, store and credit card receipts, a state police handwriting expert testified yesterday.
Taking the witness stand in the sixth day of the East Baltimore teen-ager's murder trial, forensic document examiner Gary Girton said his analysis showed Carter was the person who signed the slain Catonsville man's name on seven documents. Those documents included an application for a replacement driver's license, a receipt for a rental car and receipts for more than $2,400 in clothing and stereo equipment.
Mr. Girton added it was "highly probable" that Carter signed Mr. Pilius' name on receipts for two hotel stays and for another rental car.
Comparisons between samples of the defendant's handwriting and signatures on three other documents were inconclusive, Mr. Girton told a Baltimore Circuit Court jury.
Carter provided samples of his handwriting last month under court order.
The handwriting expert's testimony was part of a continuing effort by prosecutors to build a circumstantial case to incriminate Carter, 19, in Mr. Pilius' beating death. Earlier witnesses testified that Carter drove what apparently was the victim's company car and rented hotel rooms in the victim's name.
A fingerprint examiner is scheduled to testify today on comparisons between Carter's prints and those lifted from the hotel rooms, the company car and items seized from the burned-out East Baltimore rowhouse where the victim's body was found Feb 14.
Another witness yesterday, 16-year-old Bitalo Isaac, said he accompanied Carter on shopping trips to clothing and sporting goods stores in Mondawmin and Owings Mills malls.
And, apparently referring to a Feb. 12 incident on Reisterstown Road, he said he was present when a state trooper pulled Carter over for a traffic violation.
The teen-ager said he, Clarence Woodward, who is also charged in Mr. Pilius' death, and Damien "Day Day" Daniels, who is charged along with Carter in a separate abduction, were on their way to Owings Mills Mall when Carter was pulled over and ordered out of a rented Chevrolet Corsica. He said he and the other passengers were also ordered out of the car.
"Clarence told them to get off his sweater. They put us against the car," he said.
But he provided no other details of the incident, which occurred the day after Mr. Pilius was reported missing, except to say additional troopers arrived as backups before they "let us go."
Police have said Carter presented Mr. Pilius' driver's license, and the trooper, after running a check and learning that Mr. Pilius, a 37-year-old white male, had been reported missing, allowed the black suspect to drive away with only a warning ticket.