Trial gets under way for teen charged in tutor's slaying Youth faces first-degree murder count

January 20, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Columbia teen-ager is to stand trial in Howard Circuit Court today on charges that he strangled and raped his 57-year-old home tutor in March.

Jury selection is scheduled to start this morning in the case of 16-year-old Alton Romero Young, who faces first-degree murder, rape and eight other counts in the death of Shirley Mullinix of Dayton.

Alton's trial is expected to last at least one week before Judge Raymond Kane Jr. If convicted, Alton faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

"We're ready to go," said Richard Bernhardt, an assistant public defender representing the teen-ager, He declined to comment on the defense case.

Assistant State's Attorney Joseph Murtha, who is prosecuting the case, said he will introduce an autopsy report, DNA evidence linking Alton's blood type to semen found on the victim, and the defendant's statements to police.

Winopa Addison, Alton's mother, and Wayne Mullinix, the victim's husband, also have been issued subpoenas by the prosecutor, records state.

In addition, prosecutors will be permitted to use a confession and other statements police say Alton gave to investigators during interviews the day after the homicide.

Mr. Bernhardt tried to block the statements from being used at the trial, but Circuit Judge Cornelius Sybert Jr. denied his request last month.

According to police reports and testimony at pre-trial hearings, Alton attacked Mrs. Mullinix after she arrived at his apartment in the 7500 block of Murray Hill Road for a routine lesson on March 12.

In statements to police, Alton said he did not want to do school work when Mrs. Mullinix arrived because he was high on drugs. He said he pushed Mrs. Mullinix out of her chair, grabbed his mother's scarf and wrapped it around the tutor's neck during a struggle. He raped the woman during the attack, police said.

The youth then took Mrs. Mullinix's body to a High's store in King's Contrivance, where he wrapped a sweater around her neck to make it look like she committed suicide, police said. The body was left along a trail behind the store.

Police say Alton confessed to the slaying when investigators presented him with school vouchers that showed Mrs. Mullinix came to his apartment for the tutorial session.

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