Jury hears taped confession by defendant in rape, slaying of home tutor 17-year-old described strangling

January 27, 1993|By Alan J. Craver | Alan J. Craver,Staff Writer

A Howard Circuit Court jury heard yesterday a tape on which 17-year-old Alton Romero Young confessed last March to killing his home tutor.

The tape, which lasted about 35 minutes, was played as part of the prosecution's case against Mr. Young, who is accused of strangling and raping Shirley Mullinix, 57, of Dayton.

Mr. Young is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree rape and eight other counts in the slaying of Mrs. Mullinix, whose body was found behind a Columbia convenience store March 25.

The trial enters its fifth day of testimony today. If convicted, Mr. Young faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

In the taped confession, he told police investigators that he used his mother's green paisley scarf to strangle Mrs. Mullinix during a lesson at his apartment in the King's Contrivance village of Columbia.

"I picked it up," Mr. Young said during the police interview the day after the slaying. "I opened it up and put it around her neck."

As the tape was played in court yesterday, Mr. Young's mother, Winopa Addison, leaned forward and sobbed. Relatives of Mrs. Mullinix, including her husband, Wayne, listened to the taped confession as they sat behind the prosecution's table.

On the tape, Mr. Young told investigators that he had gotten high on marijuana with an acquaintance about 20 minutes before Mrs. Mullinix arrived for their 1 p.m. lesson.

Mr. Young said he and Mrs. Mullinix began arguing during a biology lesson. At one point, the defendant said, he kicked his tutor's chair, knocking her out of it. He said he and Mrs. Mullinix were struggling when he grabbed the scarf and tightened it around her neck.

"She started jerking around and turned blue," Mr. Young said. "I didn't know what to do. . . . I started shaking her. I called, 'Mrs. Mullinix, Mrs. Mullinix.' She just kept shaking."

Mr. Young said he then carried Mrs. Mullinix's body to her car, put it in the back seat and drove to a High's convenience store near his home in the 7500 block of Murry Hill Road and left the body behind the store.

The defendant said he believed Mrs. Mullinix was still breathing when he left her but that he never tried to get medical treatment for her because he was afraid of getting into trouble.

Mr. Young said he tied the sleeve of the woman's blue sweat jacket around her neck to make it appear that she had committed suicide.

After leaving the body, Mr. Young said, he went home, threw Mrs. Mullinix's belongings into a trash bin and cleaned up his apartment, putting the scarf into a closet.

Mr. Young never mentioned raping or sexually assaulting Mrs. Mullinix in the confession. However, the prosecution introduced evidence that Mr. Young's semen was found on Mrs. Mullinix and her clothing.

During the taped confession, investigators asked Mr. Young what he would say to Mrs. Mullinix's family. "I would tell them that I was very sorry," he responded. "It was an accident. . . . I didn't know what I was doing."

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