Handyman convicted in woman's murder Attack in Arnold occurred in 1992

April 15, 1993|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Staff Writer

Jurors yesterday convicted Annapolis handyman Albert Givens in the murder of a woman found beaten, sexually assaulted and stabbed to death in her Arnold home in January 1992.

Givens, 38, an alcoholic, was convicted of first-degree murder after a trial that focused on the brutality of the slaying of Marlene Fitzpatrick, his inconsistent statements to police about his whereabouts, and DNA tests on saliva that placed him at the scene.

Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. set sentencing for May 27.

Givens, who did not testify during the week-long trial, showed no emotion as the verdict was announced. But his attorney, Paul Kirby, said he was "stunned."

His mother, who testified on her son's behalf, called it "a terrible -- mistake."

"They're calling me a liar, and I am not a liar," the mother, Ellen Hockenberry, a retired telephone operator from Annapolis, said.

She testified that Givens was with her the morning of the murder Jan. 2, arriving at her house about 8:45 a.m. to make some repairs to her kitchen.

Wayne Williams, a Pasadena pile driver, testified that he and Givens spent the night of Jan. 1 together and that Givens left his house, while both were in a drunken haze, just before dawn.

Police said Mrs. Fitzpatrick was killed between 11 p.m. Jan. 1 and 7 a.m. Jan. 2 by an assailant she knew well enough to let into her home in the 100 block of Church Road.

Mr. Kirby tried to show that Givens could not have left Mr. William's house, committed the murder in Arnold, dumped the victim's car in Severna Park -- where it was later found -- and arrived at his mother's Annapolis house by 8:45 a.m.

The jury of 11 men and one woman deliberated a little more than two hours before announcing it believed the state's version of events.

William Gausman, a juror from Annapolis, said that there was no doubt in his mind about Givens' guilt once the case went to the jury.

He said that to his knowledge, the rest of the jurors felt the same way and that they used the two hours to "just go over all of the evidence carefully and make sure we had it straight."

The trial began with testimony from Mrs. Fitzpatrick's daughter, Lisa O'Connell, who found her mother's body. Mrs. O'Connell sat through most of the trial, but was not in court for yesterday's verdict.

Testifying in a voice choked with emotion, Mrs. O'Connell recalled finding her mother's body, naked from the waist down, two days after they had said good-bye at a New Year's Day party.

The state's chief pathologist, Dr. John Smialek, ended the prosecution's case by telling jurors that Mrs. Kilpatrick's skull was shattered by blows from what was probably a crescent wrench later found in Givens' tool box. Her ribs were broken by the force of being stabbed three times, he said.

Jurors also saw a series of lurid photos of the body.

Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen E. Rogers reminded jurors that the phone lines to the house had been cut. She also noted that Givens first told police he was at home when the murder occurred, then, after his girlfriend said he wasn't, said he was with Mr. Williams.

At one point, Ms. Rogers wielded the 15-inch crescent wrench, seized from Givens' tool box and believed to be used in the beating, as if it were a club.

"Mrs. Kilpatrick suffered an unspeakable and brutal death at the hands of that man, and justice demands a verdict of guilty," she said in closing arguments.

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