A tale of friendship betrayed unfolds at woman's murder trial

March 05, 1994|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

Booking Officer Ray Bryant said he was only joking last April when he told the quiet woman who wanted to surrender to him, "It's not like you're an ax murderer."

But then "she said she had killed somebody," he told a Baltimore County jury yesterday. It was a first in his 24 years as a policeman.

The woman was Dionne C. Brooks -- now on trial charged with murder in the beating death of 52-year-old Margaret Mae "Peggy" Kobik at the victim's apartment in Woodlawn last April 16. Mrs. Kobik had taken in the homeless Ms. Brooks after Mrs. Kobik's son befriended Ms. Brooks in a drug-rehabilitation program.

Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty, alleging that Mrs. Kobik was murdered with premeditation and during a robbery -- and making the 27-year-old defendant the first woman in the Baltimore area to be charged with capital murder in a decade, according to the public defender's office. She has raised an insanity defense.

Assistant State's Attorney Isaiah Dixon III told the Circuit Court jury in his opening statement yesterday that Ms. Brooks stayed on with Mrs. Kobik in her Lesada Drive apartment even after Mrs. Kobik's son, Sampson N. Goodwin, decided to move out.

Apparently upset that Friday because Mr. Goodwin was moving, Mrs. Kobik and Ms. Brooks "decided to drown their sorrows," the prosecutor said. According to the autopsy, the victim had a .21 blood-alcohol level -- twice the legal standard for intoxication.

The prosecutor said Ms. Brooks watched Mrs. Kobik use her ATM card to get cash when they went to buy wine and beer, and memorized the victim's identification number. "At some point, the defendant picked up the empty wine bottle and struck Mrs. Kobik in the face with it," he said. "She also took an extension cord and wrapped it around her neck." Then, taking a 14-inch carpenter's plane from Mr. Goodwin's tool bucket, Ms. Brooks struck Mrs. Kobik at least 25 times, fracturing her skull, Mr. Dixon said..

Mr. Goodwin, 33, of West Palm Beach, Fla., said he returned home that Sunday afternoon and found his mother dead in a pool of blood.

"I checked the apartment to see if Dionne was hurt," he testified. rTC When he found that she had gone, he gave police her name.

Mr. Goodwin said he and the defendant had become friends when they were in a rehabilitation program at Carroll County General Hospital. When they were discharged, he said, "She didn't want to go back to the streets, so I offered her a place to stay." When she fled, Ms. Brooks took rings and necklaces from Mrs. Kobik, along with a television set, a wallet and ATM card, and Mr. Goodwin's paycheck, Mr. Dixon said. Before she surrendered on April 20, she pawned three rings and used the ATM card to get $160, he said.

In her opening statement, Assistant Public Defender Gayle Robinson told the jury, "Dionne Chevelle Brooks did kill Mrs. Kobik . . . but [is] not criminally responsible."

According to her lawyer, Ms. Brooks was physically and sexually abused at home and went to live on the street at 15. She suffers from mental illness, with a tendency toward paranoia and chronic depression, and a drug and alcohol addiction that intensifies her mental problems, Ms. Robinson said. She had been hospitalized 10 times -- most recently when she met Mr. Goodwin. "The theft was an afterthought," Ms. Robinson said. She said the brutality of the killing shows an uncontrollable rage, not premeditation.

Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Ann Dixon testified, "It is kind of a crime of passion type -- a lot of rage involved. What I would characterize as overkill."

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