What fate for nun slayer? Jury to ponder it today

November 18, 1993|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff Writer

A Baltimore jury today will begin deliberating life or death for Melvin Jones, convicted of the murder and attempted rape of Sister MaryAnn Glinka in her order's Northeast Baltimore convent.

After legal arguments conclude this morning, the Baltimore Circuit Court jury that found Jones guilty of strangling the nun will decide whether he is to be sentenced to life in prison, life without parole or death.

Jones, 34, did not testify in the trial, but court records show he has maintained that he had nothing to do with the March 19 attack on the 51-year-old Franciscan nun.

About a dozen members of the Franciscan order -- in an archdiocese that has taken a stand against capital punishment -- watched yesterday as prosecutor Timothy J. Doory asked jurors to send Jones to the gas chamber. Afterward, Mr. Doory said the nuns are split on whether Jones should be put to death.

The nuns have declined to comment during the trial, but documents presented yesterday provided glimpses of how the murder has affected them. Prosecutor Emmanuel Brown read a statement from Sister Rita Mary Tan, major superior of the convent. "Sister Rita Mary relates that Sister MaryAnn was the spirit of the convent, and now that spirit is gone, and the sisters have a feeling of loneliness, but their faith keeps them strong because although Sister MaryAnn is not there in body, she is there in spirit and will never leave them," Mr. Brown said.

"Not only has their home been violated, but by Sister Mary Ann being raped, they all feel physically violated because they are as one. The area where Sister MaryAnn was murdered is the area where the sisters go to wait for their transportation if they are going out. Now some of the sisters will not go near that area."

Mr. Brown also read statements from heartbroken members of the Glinka family.

Mr. Doory said the crime meets the requirement for a death sentence because the murder was committed in the course of the attempted rape and a robbery, two "aggravating circumstances" listed in state death penalty law. The prosecutor said none of the mitigating factors outlined in the law apply to Jones.

On Jones' behalf, defense lawyer Phillip M. Sutley told the jurors, "I personally think [the death penalty] is destructive to society. I don't think it accomplishes anything and that's why I'm in this."

Jones' mother, Alice Jones Jefferies, testified that her son was taught by nuns in a Catholic school from the first to fourth grades.

The jury was told of Jones' criminal record, which includes a 1979 voluntary manslaughter conviction in North Carolina, a conviction for escaping from a minimum security prison there in 1986 and two felony theft convictions in Baltimore in 1989.

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