Trial opens in rape, beating

January 06, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Staff Writer

A Baltimore County prosecutor told a jury yesterday that police initially arrested the wrong man in the rape and brutal beating of a 27-year-old Chase woman, found May 22 after she crawled from a dead-end road where she had been run over and left for dead.

Defense attorney Domenic R. Iamele, representing 22-year-old Byron M. Stewart, told the jury that authorities still have the wrong man.

Mr. Stewart, of Milden Court in Chase, went on trial yesterday on charges of attempted murder, rape, sexual offenses, false imprisonment, robbery and other offenses.

Milton G. Gardner, 71, told the jury that on May 22 he saw what he thought was a pile of trash as he approached his home in the 1000 block of Hillpine Road, near Martin State Airport. When the pile moved, he called for help.

Assistant State's Attorney Robin Coffin said the woman's jaw was broken and four front teeth were knocked out when she was beaten. She also suffered a collapsed lung and had a tire track on her chest.

The woman gave police the name of a man who knew her assailant and said that her attacker drove a rust-colored car and had told her where he worked.

Police misunderstood her and arrested the man who knew her assailant. He, too, drove a rust-colored car, and he worked at the same place. In addition, the Thunderbird emblem found at the scene matched one missing from the man's car. The man spent several days in jail, Ms. Coffin said.

Meanwhile, the woman recovered at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center.

"But for the fact that [she] survived her attack," Ms. Coffin said, the other man "might be sitting in this courtroom."

But the man had an alibi, the prosecutor said, and the woman's rapid recovery enabled her to lead police to Mr. Stewart. He had been at the Main Event bar, in the 1900 block of Eastern Avenue, where the woman had been the night she was attacked.

When he was arrested, Mr. Stewart had scratches and scrapes on his arms, knees and face and clothing that matched those the woman described, said Ms. Coffin.

Blood and hair similar to Mr. Stewart's and the woman's were found on clothing in his rust-colored 1982 Mercury Zephyr and on a stick found in his car, Ms. Coffin told the jury. Two of Mr. Stewart's fingerprints were on the stick.

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