Carter confessed to killing, officer testifies

November 03, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Dontay Carter admitted to police that he struck Vitalis V. Pilius "nine or 10 times" in the neck with a pipe and dumped the body in the basement of a vacant rowhouse, jurors in the East Baltimore teen-ager's murder trial were told yesterday.

Carter told police that he and Clarence Woodward, who has also been charged in Mr. Pilius' death, abducted the Catonsville man at gunpoint from the parking garage at the Harbor Park Cinema and then looked for a place to kill him, Baltimore homicide Detective Sgt. John Barrick testified during the ninth day of the trial in city Circuit Court.

Defense lawyers responded by asking questions which suggested that the 19-year-old defendant was pressured while making the statement. They also hinted that the detective's notes may not be an accurate account of the interview.

Sergeant Barrick, a 29-year veteran of the city police force, donned eyeglasses to read aloud from his hand-printed notes of Carter's interview with police. Jurors were given copies of the seven-page statement to help them follow the detective's testimony.

"Clarence took the larger pipe and hit the man in the back of his head," Sergeant Barrick said, reading his paraphrasing of Carter's statement. "Dontay then took pipe from Clarence. Dontay struck the victim in the back of his neck nine or 10 times. The victim had stopped hollering. Blood was coming from the back of his head."

The two men then used their feet to push the body down a flight of basement steps in the burned out rowhouse at 2035 Mura St., according to the statement. Carter also admitted obtaining a bogus driver's license in the victim's name, the jury was told.

Edited from the statement was a line that said Carter learned the trick while in prison in Hagerstown.

Sergeant Barrick coordinated the investigation of Mr. Pilius' death. When the detective was on the witness stand, he seemed to make a point of looking Carter in the eye at times.

Carter did not seem to return the eye contact, spending much of the time taking notes.

The detective was asked to draw a diagram of the interview room used by city homicide detectives. He said Carter spent the session with his left hand cuffed to a chair, but the relationship between interrogator and suspect was "cordial."

"I was not an adversary to him. I was not overly friendly to him, but I was firm to him," the detective testified. "He knew who I was. He knew my purpose, and he knew where I was coming from."

Sergeant Barrick testified that Carter declined several offers to read the hand-written notes before signing them, "Dontay Carter -- I trust what Barrick wrote."

By then, the detective testified, Carter had signaled he had "had enough."

When prosecutors finished questioning Sergeant Barrick after 5 p.m. yesterday, defense lawyer John S. Deros said he wanted to begin his cross-examination before stopping for the night. He did not want the sergeant's testimony to go unchallenged as jurors take today off. Courts are closed today for Election Day.

Attempting to portray the atmosphere during Carter's questioning as more intimidating than cordial, the defense lawyer suggested to the detective that the "large interview room" was really no bigger than 9 by 12 feet and that a table took up most of that space.

He asked whether the case was considered a "red ball," or high-profile investigation.

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