Jury gives life without parole for double murder Aberdeen man escapes death penalty in slaying of 2 women in White Hall

September 25, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

LA PLATA -- A Charles County Circuit Court jury, after deliberating six hours, sentenced a 31-year-old Aberdeen man last night to life in prison without possibility of parole for fatally beating and stabbing two elderly deaf women in Northern Baltimore County in 1992.

The jury decided against a death sentence for Charles Henry Emanuel in the brutal attack on the two women and the husband of one of them.

Earlier yesterday, Emanuel apologized for his crimes and asked the jury not to sentence him to death.

But he would only go so far. While saying he was sorry to his one surviving victim -- James Attwell, 73 -- the defendant also tried to distance himself from the murders of Mr. Attwell's wife, Margaret, 70, of White Hall, and Clara Vickers, 86, a family friend from Booker, Texas.

The Attwells and Mrs. Booker were attacked during a robbery at the Attwell home in the 21000 block of W. Liberty Road in White Hall about 4 p.m. on May 18, 1992.

Mrs. Attwell was beaten and stabbed; Mrs. Vickers was beaten, stabbed and her throat cut; Mr. Attwell, who struggled with the intruder, was also beaten and stabbed. He also suffered a deep cut to his right hand when he grabbed the blade end of a knife thrust at him.

"The only thing I can say is I'm sorry that I was a part of it," Emanuel said.

He characterized himself as "partly responsible" for the women's murders, but failed to explain who else could be responsible.

A prosecutor told the jury that Emanuel's "pure, unadulterated evil" actions when he killed the two women outweighed any good in his life.

But defense attorney Jeffrey O'Toole appealed to the jury to extend mercy to Emanuel, saying, "Exercise your right, your power, to find that this life is precious."

Mr. O'Toole also argued that the jury could be doubtful that Emanuel actually stabbed and beat the two women to death. The same jury convicted him of murdering the women.

During a death penalty hearing, the state must prove the defendant was a "principal in the first degree," that his hand actually did the killing.

Mr. O'Toole suggested two reasons why the jury could find that someone else was involved: Mr. Attwell could not identify Emanuel as the attacker, and a North County truck driver said he saw two people driving in a cab, near the murder scene, about 20 minutes earlier.

"The state proved this guy is either a murderer or helping a murderer," said Mr. O'Toole. "They did not prove that he was a principal in the first degree."

Mr. Attwell had testified that the intruder had a towel over his face.

S. Ann Brobst, an assistant county attorney, called Mr. O'Toole's argument a suggestion of a "phantom suspect" and "an insult to your intelligence."

"There really is no question but there was a single intruder," she said. "We know that one person, the defendant, entered the house. It was the defendant who had the victim's, Mrs. Vickers', blood on his shirt. He alone had the victims' shotgun in his possession."

An FBI agent testified during the trial that blood found on Emanuel's sweat shirt came from Mrs. Vickers.

A string of defense witnesses had described what a good son, hard worker and loyal and giving friend Emanuel is. He worked with Alcoholics Anonymous for years and helped people control their addiction, several testified, and would often drive people to AA meetings.

His boss said he was a good, hard worker who only missed three days of work in seven years.

For these reasons, Mr. O'Toole suggested that the jury could find that Emanuel didn't have to die for his crimes. "I'm asking you to save Charles Emanuel."

Mrs. Brobst acknowledged the many friends and family members who testified on Emanuel's behalf. But she noted that while he was in AA over the years, counseling others to stay sober, he was living a dual life, going out late at night to take drugs and drink alcohol.

His friends "didn't know about that half of him," Mrs. Brobst said. "The dark half of him. They don't know how really bad he is. They don't know the monster behind the facade. The only person who has seen that dark side and who is still alive is Mr. Attwell."

Emanuel said it was only on Thursday that he began to understand how much pain he had inflicted on the Attwell family. "Trying to sleep last night was difficult," Emanuel said, "because I knew I had caused that pain."

He added, "If you vote for death in this instance, I think you will only be compounding the pain in this case" -- by hurting his family and friends.

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