Life sentences sought in deaths

January 06, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Staff Writer

Prosecutors are seeking life sentences without the possibility of parole for Jason Aaron DeLong and Sara E. Citroni, the teen-agers accused of fatally stabbing Mr. DeLong's mother and her companion in Westminster last July.

Baltimore Assistant State's Attorneys Timothy J. Doory and Ara Crowe filed their intentions to seek the no-parole sentences in the deaths of Cathryn Brace Farrar and George William Wahl, but the prosecutors have not finally decided whether to seek the death penalty against Mr. DeLong, the 19-year-old's defense attorney said yesterday.

Prosecutors are barred from seeking the death penalty against Ms. Citroni, 17, because of her age.

Defense attorney Luther C. West and courthouse sources said yesterday that Mr. Doory and Mr. Crowe were in North Carolina trying to convince Ms. Farrar's parents -- Mr. DeLong's grandparents -- to go along with their decision not to seek the death penalty.

"I believe his grandparents want the death penalty in this case," Mr. West said.

Mr. Doory and Mr. Crowe could not be reached for comment, but if they decide to seek the death penalty for Mr. DeLong they would have to file that request today or tomorrow, which is 30 days before the Feb. 7 trial date.

Mr. West said the prosecutors may get more time to make a death-penalty decision if the court grants his motion for a trial postponment, which he expected to file today. If Carroll Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold agrees to the postponement, Mr. Doory and Mr. Crowe would have until 30 days before the new trial date to notify Mr. DeLong if they decide to seek the death penalty.

Mr. West said he requested the postponment because he needs more time "to prepare a defense."

He said Mr. DeLong will plead not guilty to the first-degree murder charge and will contend that he was the victim of endless child abuse at the hands of his mother, abuse that drove him to plunge a knife repeatedly into his her body.

Westminster police discovered the bodies of Ms. Farrar, 39, and Mr. Wahl, 35, in Ms. Farrar's Bishop's Garth apartment Aug. 2. Ms. Farrar, a popular nurse's aide, had been stabbed more than 80 times and Mr. Wahl -- a brother-in-law of Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman -- had more than 40 knife wounds all over his body. The couple were Westminster's second and third homicide victims last year.

Mr. West said yesterday that Mr. DeLong was repeatedly sexually abused by his mother for years, and was moved to murder only after the years of agony his mother caused him surfaced several days before the couple was slain.

"This a case of battered child syndrome, [in which] the child, who sees the parent as the dominant figure, sees the only way to save himself is to kill the parent," Mr. West said. "The years of abuse by his mother destroyed his identity."

Mr. West said he will likely seek to have the case against his client tried by a jury outside of Carroll County. If prosecutors seek the death penalty, such a transfer would be automatic. Otherwise, Judge Arnold would decide whether to move the trial to another county.

Ms. Citroni, who, like Mr. DeLong, is being held without bail in the Carroll County Detention Center, also is scheduled for trial Feb. 7. Her attorney, Carroll Assistant Public Defender Brian Green, that he hopes her trial would be separate from Mr. DeLong's.

A pre-trial motions hearing is tentatively scheduled this month to resolve that and other issues.

L Mr. Green declined to comment further on the case yesterday.

Mr. DeLong and Ms. Citroni were arrested in Florida days after the July 29 stabbings. Both have been charged as adults with two counts each of first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, stabbing with intent to maim and conspiracy to each of those counts.

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