Hill convicted of murder in bank holdup

December 08, 1993|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

A Harford County jury yesterday convicted Louis Hill III of premeditated murder in the 1992 robbery of a Randallstown bank that left two tellers dead and two other employees wounded.

The jury deliberated just three hours before returning its verdict after Hill, 26, declined to testify at the end of a seven-day trial.

Baltimore County prosecutors today will argue for the death penalty, alleging that Hill fired the shots into the heads of four employees who were forced to lie on the floor of the vault in the Farmers Bank & Trust branch in the 9800 block of Liberty Road by two masked robbers on Oct. 26, 1992.

Tellers Dorothy J. Langmead and Anastasia "Stacey" George died. Bank manager Barbara Mitchell Aldrich survived and called for police. Teller Cindy Ann Thomas also recovered from her wound.

Hill, 26, and Benjamin Franklin Boisseau Jr., 23, were arrested minutes after the robbery when police found them at a trash bin in a parking lot about four miles from the bank. Police recovered a MAC-11 Cobray pistol identified as the murder weapon, latex gloves and $5,683 taken from the bank.

Boisseau, 23, formerly of the 3100 block of Clifton Ave. in Baltimore, was convicted earlier this year and sentenced to life in prison. Hill's trial was moved to Harford County at his request.

Although Hill's attorney put up a spirited defense, attacking shaky eyewitness identifications and a lack of direct forensic evidence proving that Hill pulled the trigger, the jury of 11 women and one man found him guilty of all 16 charges against him, including first-degree murder.

Mrs. Aldrich, the bank manager, said afterward, "I left it in the Lord's hands, and I'll leave sentencing in His hands. My heart goes out to his [Hill's] family. I'll be praying for them -- and for him."

Ms. Thomas, the other survivor, said, "I'm glad it's over. I did not expect it to go this fast." She said she has always favored the death penalty and "this case does not change my mind for someone who murders somebody and has no remorse at all."

Michael Langmead Sr., husband of one of the slain tellers, said he doesn't think the death penalty is necessary "as long as I know he's never going to get out of jail again to take another life."

In her closing argument, prosecutor S. Ann Brobst urged the jury to use common sense. "You'll need a truckload of it for this trial," she declared.

The prosecution produced evidence that Hill's rent check had bounced the morning of the robbery, and that he had promised to return with cash or a money order that day. Noting earlier testimony that Mr. Hill had an account at the bank, Ms. Brobst told the jury there was no mistaking his intentions.

"It was his bank. He'd been there six times in the last two months. He went there with a fully loaded, MAC-11 semiautomatic Cobray with 15 rounds of hollow point ammunition. When Mr. Hill went into the bank at 1:58, he had no intention of leaving any living witnesses in that bank: he used his own car, his own gun and he robbed his own bank. He knew from the moment he entered that bank that no one was going to survive that carnage," she declared.

But defense attorney David P. Henninger countered, "Good common sense can't substitute for evidence."

He hammered away at the prosecution's inability to produce direct testimony or forensic evidence showing that Hill actually fired the murder weapon, although evidence showed he had bought the gun in Virginia in 1990.

There were no fingerprints on the gun and a forensic expert said the test used to find Hill's fingerprint on one of the latex gloves made it impossible to conduct a test to see if the glove had been used to fire a gun.

Another prosecution expert testified that hair samples from a red cap that witnesses said was worn by the trigger man did not come from either Hill or Boisseau.

"In every test, every time, Mr. Hill is not being connected to this crime," Mr. Henninger said.

Hill, a cleaning service operator who lives in the 300 block of Stevenson Lane in Rodgers Forge, originally told police that he agreed to give two strangers a lift to the bank. He told police that when they came out, he drove them away. He said the third, unidentified man got out of the car before he and Boisseau were arrested.

But prosecutor John P. Cox urged the jury to consider a videotape taken from a bank lobby camera the day of the robbery, saying it would show the robbers were of different heights.

After deliberating an hour, the jury asked to see the tape and returned its verdict less than two hours later.

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