Judge admits letter, boots knife in trial Shore man charged with mall slaying

November 11, 1992|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

DENTON -- Over strong objections by defense lawyers, TC Caroline County judge agreed yesterday to consider three pieces of evidence crucial to the prosecution of David Anthony Boyd, the man accused of murdering a Salisbury State University freshman last year.

The 34-year-old former chicken plant worker faces the death penalty if he is convicted of fatally stabbing Heather Miller during a robbery inside a women's restroom at the Salisbury Mall.

After questioning dozens of witnesses during six days in court, lawyers are scheduled to present closing arguments today before Circuit Judge J. Owen Wise. Judge Wise is expected to announce a verdict tomorrow.

Boyd turned down the opportunity to testify yesterday. Throughout the trial, which was moved from Wicomico County to Caroline County because of the publicity the crime generated, Boyd has remained quiet except for an occasional whispered conversation with his two public defenders.

Yesterday Judge Wise admitted into evidence a letter in which an anonymous writer confessed to the murder; a knife Boyd admits he threw into a field when he knew police were looking for him; and a pair of Boyd's boots which prosecutors said left bloody prints outside the mall restroom where Ms. Miller was stabbed twice.

Fingerprints found

Maryland State Police investigators testified that the letter contained Boyd's fingerprints. But they said no discernible blood stains were found on the knife or the boots.

Ms. Miller, who was 17 and lived in Glenshaw, Pa., had been at Salisbury State just two weeks when she was murdered. She went to the mall Sept. 9, 1991, to shop with friends. Other shoppers and mall employees testified that they heard Ms. Miller scream as she staggered from the restroom before collapsing at a shop entrance.

An autopsy revealed that she had been stabbed by a knife once in the chest and once in the back.

There were no witnesses to the murder, and the case against Boyd has depended largely upon circumstantial evidence. Defense lawyers have conceded that an intoxicated Boyd was at the mall that night, attempting to flirt with women. But they also have hinted that a still unidentified man who also was at the mall may have been the murderer.

In the final minutes before the defense rested yesterday, Assistant Public Defender Gary Christopher called two witnesses who said they had seen a suspicious-looking white man with blond or reddish hair lurking in a hallway near the murder scene. Other witnesses testified earlier that they saw Boyd, who is black, walking quickly away from the restrooms clutching his hands close to his chest. He was arrested four days later after police received a tip that Boyd resembled a composite sketch of the black man witnesses saw rush from the mall.

Prosecutors said Ms. Miller went into the restroom carrying a green clutch purse. Although some keys and a bank card were found on the bloodied restroom floor after the murder, the purse was never recovered.

Anonymous letter

On July 7, two weeks before Boyd's trial was originally scheduled to begin, police in Fruitland outside Salisbury received an anonymous letter in which the writer admitted to killing Ms. Miller. The author expressed remorse that "this black" had been charged with the murder.

"It is enough that one died," the letter said. "But in my heart I will be blamed for two people dying," it continued, an apparent reference to the death penalty Boyd could receive if convicted.

The letter also contained details of the killing and the murder scene that were not revealed in court testimony.

A fingerprint analysis of the envelope and note paper revealed that Boyd had handled the letter, according to a Maryland State Police crime lab expert. But a handwriting analysis could not determine whether Boyd had actually written the two-page note.

Wicomico Deputy State's Attorney Sampson G. Vincent charged that the letter was "manufactured evidence" and that Boyd's fingerprints on it proved he had a hand in what prosecutors said was an attempt to weaken the state's case against him. Mr. Vincent said the letter revealed Boyd's "consciousness of guilt" and that the item should be allowed as evidence.

But Mr. Christopher, the defense lawyer, argued that Boyd could have handled the paper before the letter was written and that the court should not consider it as evidence.

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