Victim's cause of death unclear, pathologist testifies

February 23, 1994|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

A pathologist told an Anne Arundel Circuit judge yesterday there is no way to know what killed a 61-year-old homeless man whose body was found in a shallow grave last spring.

Dr. John E. Adams, the pathologist, said the July 21, 1993, autopsy report that labeled the death of Arch Baldwin a homicide was erroneous.

Dr. Adams, a former assistant medical examiner who has conducted 5,000 autopsies, told Judge Robert H. Heller Jr. that Mr. Baldwin suffered from heart disease, had liver and pancreas problems, and had been treated at Anne Arundel Medical Center 21 times in the seven months before his death.

Based on Mr. Baldwin's medical history, he would have ruled the manner of death as "undetermined," said Dr. Adams, a defense witness in the trials of Adam Schlossman and Theodore Reshetiloff.

The 21-year-old students at Anne Arundel Community College are charged with manslaughter and assault with intent to maim in the July 1992 death of Mr. Baldwin.

Prosecutors have charged that Mr. Baldwin's death stemmed from an attack by Mr. Schlossman and Mr. Reshetiloff, who pushed him into a pit and pelted him with debris. But Dr. Adams said Mr. Baldwin was alive for 10 hours after the incident. His death would have to have occurred within an hour to warrant a conclusion that the attack had killed him, Dr. Adams said.

Dr. John Smialek, the state's chief pathologist, testified that Mr. Baldwin died a short time after he was pushed into the gully because he was found in the same position -- on his belly under a mattress -- that he had been left in the night before. He said the victim's poor health, coupled with the stress brought on by the attack had killed him.

"He had coronary artery disease, that made him a walking time bomb," he said.

The case came to a close yesterday after a week of testimony.

Mr. Baldwin used to live in woods behind a house at 39 Jefferson Place that Mr. Schlossman shared with some acquaintances, said deputy state's attorney William Roessler.

According to the testimony, the two men went out one night in July 1992, aroused the victim from a drunken stupor, poured beer on him, urinated on him, knocked him down and when he tried to stand up, pushed him into a 4-foot gully.

They pelted him with stones and dirt, and at one point Mr. Reshetiloff threw part of a cinder block at him, according to Willis Lewin Usilton, one of Mr. Schlossman's house mates who witnessed the attack.

When the men checked the next day, they found Mr. Baldwin dead and dragged his body deeper into the woods where they buried him in a shallow grave.

The body was discovered nine months later when one of Mr. Schlossman's house mates went to the police.

Judge Heller said he needed time to review the extensive medical records submitted as evidence and the "four legal pads full of notes" he took during the trial and would announce his verdict March 2.

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