Family members give defendant alibi They say Jones was home at time of nun's slaying

November 11, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

Melvin Jones defended himself yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court against charges of raping and murdering a Franciscan nun by calling his relatives as alibi witnesses.

The alibi testimony came after a state medical examiner testifying for the prosecution said Sister MaryAnn Glinka may have already been dead when she was raped.

Mr. Jones' mother, sister and niece said that he was at the family home on East 32nd Street all evening on March 18 and in the early morning hours of March 19.

Prosecutors have suggested that Sister MaryAnn was killed shortly after 1:30 a.m. March 19, when she reported a false alarm at her North Baltimore convent.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Jones, 34, who once worked as a painter at the convent.

Mr. Jones' sister, Velveeta Jones, said her brother had an asthma attack about 3 a.m. March 19, prompting prosecutor Timothy J. Doory to suggest that asthma attacks can be brought on by being upset -- and thus hinting that Mr. Jones might have returned from the crime scene by then.

The defendant's mother, Alice Jones Jefferies, and niece, L'Tayna Jones, then testified that the asthma attack occurred about 1 a.m. and continued through much of the early morning.

Prosecutors have sought to link Mr. Jones to the crime through a fingerprint found on a box of chocolates in a ransacked room at the convent, through testimony showing that the nun's watch was in his pocket when he was arrested, and through a matchbook, found at the scene, that had his girlfriend's phone number scrawled inside.

The girlfriend, Vanessa Cochran, was called yesterday as a prosecution witness. She acknowledged that the number on the matchbook was one she had obtained while Mr. Jones was out of town.

Ms. Cochran, on cross-examination by defense lawyer Phillip M. Sutley, said Mr. Jones always used a cigarette lighter when he smoked.

When Mr. Sutley asked her, "He wouldn't have any reason to have your phone number written down, would he?" Ms. Cochran answered, "No. He knew it by heart."

Ms. Cochran also hinted that the matches may have been left by a "Miss Watson" she knew who, she said, worked at the convent.

Prosecutors rested their case after calling Sister Rita Mary Tan, the mother superior, who said that records showed no women named Watson had worked at the convent since 1991.

Dr. Ann Dixon, a medical examiner, testified yesterday that Sister MaryAnn was probably strangled. She said medical evidence shows the nun was probably dead when she was sexually assaulted.

The trial will not be in session today or tomorrow. Mr. Sutley said he will call witnesses Monday to explain how the watch ended up in Mr. Jones' pocket.

The jury could begin deliberations later Monday.

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