Victim's husband leads testimony Columbia teen on trial in tutor's death

January 22, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

Wayne Mullinix last saw his wife, Shirley, when she was wearing a pink flannel nightgown and sipping coffee in their Dayton home on the morning of March 25, 1992.

It was a morning like any other: Mrs. Mullinix was starting her day as a car pool arrived to take her husband to work.

"I gave her a hug and a kiss and left," Mr. Mullinix said.

Hours later, Mr. Mullinix recalled, county police officers arrived at his home to inform him that his wife had been killed, a victim of rape and strangulation.

Mr. Mullinix was the first witness to testify yesterday in the trial of Alton Romero Young, a Columbia teen-ager accused of raping and murdering Mrs. Mullinix, whose body was found behind a Kings Contrivance convenience store.

Mr. Young, 17, is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape and eight other counts in the slaying of Mrs. Mullinix, a 57-year-old home tutor who worked for the county schools system.

The prosecution contends that Mr. Young strangled Mrs. Mullinix in his apartment in the 7500 block of Murray Hill Road after she arrived for a lesson at 1 p.m. During the struggle, Mr. Young allegedly raped the woman.

Driving Mrs. Mullinix's red 1986 Toyota, Mr. Young took Mrs. Mullinix's body to a nearby High's store, the prosecution says. The body was found with a blue sweat jacket tied around the neck.

"To Alton Young, Shirley Mullinix was like a piece of trash, something to dispose of behind a High's store," Assistant

State's Attorney Joseph Murtha told the jury of seven women and five men during opening statements.

Assistant Public Defender Richard Bernhardt acknowledged that Mr. Young killed Mrs. Mullinix, but said his client acted on "childish" impulses.

"There's no doubt that he took a human life," Mr. Bernhardt said. "In a flood of childish rage, he took [her] life."

But Mr. Bernhardt rebutted allegations that Mr. Young raped Mrs. Mullinix. He said a New York University molecular biologist will testify that the prosecution's evidence is inconclusive and unreliable.

Mr. Murtha said he will introduce DNA evidence linking Mr. Young's blood type to semen found on Mrs. Mullinix's body. He also will present a pubic hair from Mrs. Mullinix that was found in the carpet of Mr. Young's apartment.

During yesterday's proceedings, the prosecution presented testimony that traced the last steps of Mrs. Mullinix, the actions of Mr. Young after the alleged slaying, and the early stages of the police investigation.

Lane Larsen, a Columbia man, testified that he found Mrs. Mullinix's body after a youth came into High's and reported that someone was lying behind the shop shortly after 3 p.m.

Harriett Heifetz of Columbia testified that she saw a young black man in a small red car blocking the exit of the convenience store. The driver appeared to be having trouble working the stick shift of the vehicle.

Vanessa Thompson, a 10th-grader at Hammond High School, testified that Mr. Young gave her a ride home from school in a small red car.

On the day after the slaying, Mr. Mullinix testified that he got a telephone call from a mother wanting to know why his wife did not show up for a tutoring lesson with her son.

Mr. Mullinix said he advised the woman to call school officials, explaining that his wife would no longer be teaching.

"And she asked why . . . and I said she was dead," Mr. Mullinix said. "[The woman] let out a scream. She said [Mrs. Mullinix] was supposed to teach her son at 1 p.m."

Mr. Mullinix later learned that the woman was Winopa Addison, Mr. Young's mother. Mr. Mullinix noted that Mrs. Addison later sent a flower arrangement for his wife's funeral.

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