Boyd convicted of killing Salisbury State freshman EASTERN SHORE

November 13, 1992|By William Thompson | William Thompson,Staff Writer

DENTON -- A Caroline County judge found David Anthony Boyd guilty of first-degree murder yesterday in the fatal stabbing last year of 17-year-old Heather Miller in a Salisbury Mall restroom.

Boyd sat motionless in the crowded courtroom as Judge J. Owen Wise said that evidence and testimony during the seven-day trial showed that no one but the 34-year-old former chicken plant worker could have killed the young woman, a freshman at Salisbury State University.

Prosecutors had tried to prove that Boyd had robbed Ms. Miller of her purse during the stabbing -- a felony murder charge that could result in the death penalty under Maryland law.

But the purse was never found, and Judge Wise ruled that there was insufficient evidence to prove robbery. That ruling was a victory of sorts for public defenders Gary Christopher and John P. Rue II, who fought to save Boyd from the death penalty by chipping away at the robbery allegation.

Wicomico County State's Attorney Davis R. Ruark said he has asked Judge Wise to sentence Boyd to life in prison without parole. A sentencing date has not been set. Judge Wise also found Boyd guilty on two weapons charges.

Ms. Miller, a Pennsylvania resident who had just enrolled at Salisbury State, had gone to the mall with three new classmates. She left her friends to use the women's restroom, then reappeared in the main mall corridor bleeding from two deep stab wounds. She collapsed and died within minutes.

Speaking publicly for the first time since his daughter's death, Richard Miller said yesterday's verdict could not make up for his family's loss.

"One thing that won't happen is that Heather will be back with us," he said outside the Denton courthouse, to which the trial had been moved because of publicity the crime had generated in the Salisbury area.

Mr. Miller said he and his wife, who sat in the courtroom during the entire trial, returned to their home in Glenshaw, Pa., outside Pittsburgh every day so they could visit the cemetery where their daughter is buried.

"It's 312 miles from here to Heather's grave," he said.

Dozens of spectators, including SSU students and Salisbury police, jammed into the courtroom yesterday to hear Judge Wise's rulings.

For nearly an hour, Judge Wise explained how he had reached his verdict.

There was no witness to the stabbing, he noted, but mall JTC shoppers and employees said they saw Boyd flee the restroom area seconds before Ms. Miller came into view.

The judge said Boyd's flight was "most unusual and remarkable" because others in the mall ran to attend to Ms. Miller as soon as they saw she was in trouble.

Boyd must have known Ms. Miller had been stabbed, said Judge Wise. "If there was no crime committed, why would one flee?" he asked.

A print expert testified this week that a bloody boot impression on the floor outside the restroom matched the right boot owned by Boyd.

Defense lawyers conceded that Boyd was at the mall that day, but said he had recently had a fight with his girlfriend and had gone there to flirt with women.

Throughout the trial, aggressive defense lawyers hammered away at the state's case against Boyd. They hinted strongly that another man seen acting suspiciously in the mall that day could have been the killer. They suggested that mall security guards had failed to properly secure the crime scene before police arrived. And they said that Salisbury police, under pressure to arrest a suspect, chose Boyd partly because he is black.

The prosecution, headed by Wicomico Deputy State's Attorney Sampson G. Vincent, consumed all but half a day of the trial with a parade of witnesses. Bit by bit, they labored to prove not only that Boyd was the killer, but that no one else could have been in the restroom with Ms. Miller.

The state's case depended almost entirely upon circumstantial evidence. A knife Boyd told police he had thrown away when he learned he was wanted for questioning bore no blood stains by the time it was tested. And a letter sent to police by an anonymous writer claiming that Boyd was not the killer had the defendant's fingerprints on it.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.