Man pleads guilty to bludgeoning and stabbing Lochearn woman to death BALTIMORE COUNTY

December 09, 1992|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

In an unusual courtroom admission, a 28-year-old Baltimore man pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree murder in the stabbing and bludgeoning death of a retired schoolteacher in her Lochearn home last summer.

Allen McDowell Sr., who said he saw visions of his victim's face and confessed to police even before they knew a crime had been committed, told Baltimore County Circuit Judge Barbara Kerr Howe that he did not want a trial or wish to plead insanity, although he faces a possible life sentence without parole.

McDowell, a resident of the 1600 block of Calhoun St., had been charged with murdering Isabel Caldwell by stabbing her and beating her with a table lamp in her house in the 3600 block of Oak Ave. July 28. The defendant had frequently cut the grass for the widowed schoolteacher, who lived alone.

Assistant State's Attorney Robin Coffin told the judge the prosecution will seek the maximum penalty, while Assistant Public Defender Jerri Peyton argues for a lesser sentence.

As the prosecutor outlined the state's evidence, relatives of the defendant and about a dozen members of the victim's family watched and listened, sometimes sobbing as the attack was described.

Thinking his crime occurred in the city, McDowell went to the Western District station in Baltimore on July 29 to turn himself in. He told police that at 2 p.m. the previous day, he "beat up an old lady and he thought she was dead . . . I stabbed her in the neck or head. There was a lot of blood," Ms. Coffin said.

He led the police to the home on Oak Avenue, where the 75-year-old victim lay dead on the floor of her living room, with the rear door unlocked.

Turned over to county police, he told an officer that he was depressed and that evil things came over him. "I wasn't even mad at her. Pressure just came over me. I used to cut her grass. She was a nice lady," he said, according to prosecutors at yesterday's hearing.

While awaiting a bail hearing, the prosecutor said, McDowell talked to another defendant in the lockup.

McDowell told the man he had been working for the woman and thought about taking her pocketbook when we went inside to get paid.

Instead of just taking the purse, he told the man, he picked up a screwdriver and stabbed her, then beat her in the head with a lamp and "kept hitting her and hitting her," the prosecutor said.

He got $70 and a bank card that didn't work.

McDowell told the man in the lockup that he "couldn't sleep that night because her face kept jumping in and out of his mind," the prosecutor said. After talking to his wife, he decided to surrender.

The prosecution outlined the evidence police would have presented, including a fingerprint lifted from a credit card police found at the scene and a blood-stained knife that a workman found wrapped in tissue and hidden behind a counter in September.

Judge Howe found the evidence sufficient and accepted the guilty plea.

The state didn't file notice for the death penalty, she said, because McDowell had no criminal record and prosecutors would have had to prove another serious crime, such as robbery.

The victim's family was satisfied with the guilty plea, Ms. Coffin said after meeting privately with them. Ms. Peyton, who asked NTC for a psychological evaluation, said she wouldn't comment on the case until sentencing.

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