Carter's fate now rests with jury Deliberations to continue today BALTIMORE CITY

November 17, 1992|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Is Dontay Carter a murdering, lying "snake," as the prosecution suggested, or was he framed by police, as his lawyer argued?

That question now rests with a Baltimore jury.

The jury, which deliberated for five hours yesterday without reaching a verdict, was to return this morning to consider the East Baltimore teen-ager's fate. Carter, 19, is charged with first-degree murder and kidnapping in the Feb. 11 beating death of Vitalis V. Pilius.

During yesterday's closing arguments, prosecutors said Carter was stripped of his cloak of presumed innocence during the four-week trial.

"He sits there in front of you as naked as sin, and as guilty as sin," Assistant State's Attorney Thurman Zollicoffer told the jurors. Mr. Zollicoffer said credit card receipts and other documents linking Carter to the slain Catonsville man, along with a confession he purportedly made to police, were enough to establish the teen-ager's guilt.

Reminding jurors of the brutality of the crime, the prosecutor showed them pictures of Mr. Pilius' bloody body and pounded a 20-pound metal pole, believed to be the murder weapon, on the courtroom floor.

When it was his turn to speak to the jury, Carter's lawyer, John S. Deros, countered: "Are you going to succumb to the pressure that has been applied to look at the magnitude of the offense and go with the flow and convict Dontay Carter?"

Mr. Deros said Carter's claim that two of his friends gave him the dead man's credit cards after killing Mr. Pilius is plausible. He maintained that Carter's confession was fabricated by police eager to solve a high-profile case. And he said Carter is too intelligent to have knowingly driven around town in a dead man's car, leaving a paper trail.

Referring to Carter's testimony last week, in which he used four letter words to describe his distrust of police, Mr. Deros told the jurors, "You don't have to like him -- I'm not asking you to. You can definitely say he's no fool."

Prosecutor Vickie L. Wash, who offered the state's final, rebuttal argument, said Carter's testimony worked against him.

"You saw the monster that he is," she said. "He was like a snake spewing his venom.

"Does the state think he's smart? No. He's angry, he's arrogant, he's manipulative and he's intimidating."

Ms. Wash said Carter's testimony offered a new twist on the idea of police beating a confession out of a suspect.

"I would not stand up here today or any other day and say this has never happened in the history of this country, but it did not happen to Dontay Carter," she said.

Instead, she said, Carter is a "practiced liar."

She noted that he said he was at his grandmother's house eating eggs around the time of the killing, and she noted the grandmother did not corroborate the claim. That remark led to an outburst from Carter, who glared at the prosecutor and interjected, "She's dead."

Ms. Wash also scoffed at the idea that Carter had nothing to do with the murder but led a $9,000 shopping spree with the dead man's credit cards. And she asked the jury to consider the similarities between Mr. Pilius' abduction and Carter's admitted role in the Feb. 14 kidnapping of a jeweler.

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