Dundalk man convicted for his role in slaying

June 05, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

A Dundalk man was convicted last night on felony murder charges for participating in a burglary in August that resulted in the grisly death of 44-year-old woman as her husband slept upstairs.

The Baltimore County Circuit Court jury deliberated about 7 1/2 hours before finding David Wayne Couch, 27, of the 200 block of St. Helena Ave. guilty of first-degree murder, robbery with a deadly weapon and burglary. He will be sentenced July 22.

Homicide detectives testified Couch admitted driving the getaway truck and served as a lookout for the man who killed Patricia Jane Kaczynski, 44, of the first block of Liberty Parkway in Dundalk. Under Maryland law, someone who aids and abets in a crime is as guilty as the person who commits it.

Mrs. Kaczynski's husband, Theodore Kaczynski Sr., 51, walked downstairs about 8 a.m. Aug. 29 and found his wife dead in their living room with her head nearly cut off.

Mr. Kaczynski was repeatedly overcome by emotion during testimony -- first while describing his discovery for Assistant State's Attorney Jason League, then while undergoing a gruesomely detailed cross-examination by defense attorney Gerald D. Glass. The defense attempted to portray Mr. Kaczynski as one of many potential suspects.

But Mr. League told the jury in closing, "If you think Mr. Kaczynski is responsible, so be it . . . but ladies and gentlemen, there is no evidence.

"This man finds his wife brutally murdered . . . and to suggest that he's responsible is not only wrong, but it's cruel."

Mr. Glass emphasized that Ronald Edward Keihl, the man alleged to have entered the home and have killed Mrs. Kaczynski, hasn't been charged. Mr. Keihl, 26, is in the Baltimore City Detention Center awaiting trial in August on an unrelated charge that he bludgeoned to death a former girlfriend's mother, who was found nude and dead in her bed in June 1987, Baltimore prosecutors said.

That case had been on an inactive docket since Jan. 5, 1988, when prosecutors said the evidence they had at that time was insufficient to gain a conviction. But the case was renewed when witness came forward to testify.

Testimony in court this week before Judge James T. Smith Jr. showed that a kitchen window pane was broken so the burglars could reach a key that had been left in the deadbolt lock. Because Mrs. Kaczynski was half-undressed, Mr. Glass also raised the possibility that some sexual crime may have occurred.

In his instructions to the jury, Judge Smith said the law states that a defendant can't be found guilty of felony murder if the actual killer commited a crime very different from the one planned.

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