Carter says pals killed Pilius, to his 'outrage'

November 13, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Dontay Carter took the witness stand yesterday in his murder trial to blame two of his friends for the beating death of Vitalis V. Pilius.

The first witness in the defense phase of the 3-week-old trial in Baltimore Circuit Court, Carter readily admitted to engaging in a shopping spree with the dead man's credit cards. But the East Baltimore teen-ager said those credit cards had been given to NTC him by Clarence Woodward and Martin Parker -- and he suggested that they were responsible for the 37-year-old Catonsville man's death.

Asked by his lawyer for his reaction to the notion that his friends had killed the man, Carter said: "Outrage. . . . I couldn't see no sense in it." Mr. Woodward, 17, is scheduled to stand trial Thursday in Mr. Pilius' death. Mr. Parker, 18, testified Oct. 30 as a prosecution witness in the Carter trial.

Previous testimony in the trial stated that Carter told police that he and Mr. Woodward had abducted Mr. Pilius at gunpoint from the parking garage at the Harbor Park Cinema and then beaten him to death in a vacant East Baltimore rowhouse. Witnesses have testified that Carter drove a station wagon matching the description of Mr. Pilius' company car.

But Carter testified yesterday that he was standing on the corner of Patterson Park Avenue and Chase Street on Feb. 11 -- the day Mr. Pilius was last seen alive -- when he first saw the station wagon. He said he joined Mr. Woodward and Mr. Parker in the car and they went to the home of 18-year-old Damien "Day Day" Daniels, who is charged along with Carter in the Feb. 7 kidnapping of a Johns Hopkins Hospital doctor.

Carter said he began to suspect his friends had done more than just steal a car and a man's wallet only after state police pulled them over the next day on Reisterstown Road. As he handed police a driver's license in Mr. Pilius' name -- and was told the man had been reported missing -- he understood why Mr. Woodward and Mr. Daniels were acting as if they were about to flee, Carter testified.

Later, he said, he confronted Mr. Daniels in a room rented in Mr. Pilius' name at the Omni Hotel.

Over the objections of prosecutors, Carter was permitted to recount his version of the conversation.

"I said, 'Black, what's up?' He said, 'What do you mean?' " Carter testified. "I said, 'Y'all ain't telling me something. . . . Why the . . . was y'all trying to get away from the car when the police stopped us?' "

L "He said they [Mr. Woodward and Mr. Parker] killed the man."

Proceedings were halted for more than three hours while Judge John N. Prevas considered whether to allow the jury to hear the hearsay evidence. Mr. Daniels was brought in and asked whether he would be willing to testify, but he refused to waive his Fifth Amendment right.

In the end, the judge allowed the testimony but said he would likely permit prosecutors, who hope to discredit Carter's testimony, to present Mr. Daniels' statement to police.

Carter spoke in a rapid-fire manner through much of his three hours on the stand. He peppered his testimony with four-letter words and street slang, for example, referring to his 2 1/2 years in prison in Hagerstown as a stay on "the farm." "Pearl Harbor" was the code word to flee because police were on their way, he said; "Mary Poppins" meant police had already arrived.

He described several run-ins and close encounters with authorities in the days following Mr. Pilius' disappearance. He gave few details of how he obtained a license in Mr. Pilius' name at the MVA Mondawmin office. He was more colorful in describing how he tried to intimidate state troopers who questioned him when he tried to use Mr. Pilius' credit card to rent a car at Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

He said he told two troopers, "If you ain't gonna lock me up, let me go. Stop harassing me."

He said he talked to a state police lieutenant who arrived as a back-up after the Feb. 12 traffic stop on Reisterstown Road "like I was the police and he was the suspect."

They had gotten lost while looking for Owings Mills Mall to do still more shopping when they were pulled over, Carter said. After he talked his way out of that jam, he said, police helpfully led the lost teen-agers to the mall.

Carter is to return to the witness stand today.

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