Abuse as a child led her to kill parents, inmate says In the first legal case of its kind in Md., daughter asks to be freed after 18 years

June 13, 1993|By Sandy Banisky | Sandy Banisky,Staff Writer

In September 1974, the well-to-do and well-respected William and Dorothy Glazier were killed in their bed in Cambridge, blasted with a shotgun. Now their adopted daughter, who was convicted with her boyfriend of their murders, is seeking clemency, the first such request in Maryland based on a claim of sexual and physical child abuse.

If the crime occurred today, her lawyers contend, the court would hear Linda Sue Glazier's account of a lifetime of mistreatment -- beginning in her mother's home in Florida, continuing in an adoptive home in New Jersey and ending with beatings and rapes from the time she was 12 in the Glaziers' waterfront home in Cambridge.

But in 1974, when Linda Glazier was an 18-year-old standing trial, courts weren't accepting evidence that years of abuse might have caused the violence. The jury took only 90 minutes to convict Glazier of conspiring in the murders, which were committed by her boyfriend while she was in another room.

From the day in April 1975, when she was sentenced to two consecutive life terms, Glazier has never left the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women at Jessup, except for trips down the road for therapy at the Patuxent Institution.

In prison, where her record is clean, she's completed college, earning a business degree from Morgan State University.

But she's never had a home visit, never been on work release. State prison officials say that she'll have to serve about 30 years, less credit for good conduct, even to be considered for such programs. At 36 years old, she expects to serve many more years in prison -- unless the governor intercedes.

"She was a victim of history," says Paul Mones, one of Glazier's lawyers, whose Santa Monica, Calif., practice is devoted to defending abused children who kill their parents. "It was 20 years ago, but it's like it was a century ago."

Today, though only four states have statutes that automatically allow evidence of battered-child syndrome, Mr. Mones says some courts will listen to the theory that abuse might have led to the crime.

In Maryland, which has written into law a battered spouse's right to use evidence of abuse, a bill that would have extended the right to battered children died in the legislature last spring.

M. Cristina Gutierrez, a Baltimore defense lawyer who is now working on a parricide case, says Maryland courts will sometimes allow some testimony about mistreatment --depending on which judge is hearing the case. "It's not used to excuse the crime but to explain the circumstances," Ms. Gutierrez says.

When Linda Glazier was tried and convicted, battered-child syndrome simply was not an issue courts considered.

"Today it would have been handled differently, and the result would have been different," says Phillip M. Sutley, the Baltimore lawyer who was appointed by the court to defend Glazier in 1974. He never mounted a defense. He says the judge disallowed any of the evidence he would have offered.

Mr. Sutley says he's sure that today, with society aware of the effects of long-term abuse, Glazier would have fared far better. "It wouldn't have been not guilty, but it definitely would have been a better result."

Perhaps. Battered-child syndrome is a new theory in most courts, and many judges remain skeptical.

The judge in the Glazier case, Somerset County Circuit Judge Lloyd L. Simpkins, is one of them.

At her trial in April 1975, he would not allow Glazier to build a defense around her accounts of incest and beatings. At a hearing in December 1992 in which she sought a reduced sentence, he again discounted the evidence of abuse.

"She just made bald allegations that she had been sexually abused," he said last week. "Nobody believed it. . . . I didn't believe it. She couldn't back it up.

"It was a cold-blooded murder," Judge Simpkins said. "She was in trouble all her life."

And as for her parents, the judge recalled, "Their reputation was

impeccable."

'To me, it was normal'

William Glazier was 50, Dorothy Glazier 47 when they adopted their only child, 7-year-old Linda Sue Miller, from a family in New Jersey.

By the time she moved into their household near Cambridge, she had lived in several homes in several states. In nearly all of them, she says, she was abused.

"It was normal," she says as she sits in the visitors' reception room at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women, her home for the past 18 years. "To me, it was normal."

She had been born in North Carolina in August 1956. Her father abandoned the family -- Linda and two older brothers -- in Jacksonville, Fla., about two years later. Her mother, who had no money and let the children scavenge for food from trash cans, brought men home to spend the night while the children slept on the couch. Glazier says some of those men sexually abused her.

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