Man charged in slayings of two lawyers

May 20, 1994|By Kris Antonelli and Dennis O'Brien | Kris Antonelli and Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writers Sun staff writers Peter Hermann and Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

A 31-year-old man who got out of jail two months ago after serving six months for theft was charged this morning with killing two prominent attorneys in their weekend retreat in Arnold.

Scotland E. Williams was arrested last night in front of his house in the 800 block of Bradford Ave., in Arnold, after watching television newscasts that broadcast his photo from Baltimore to Washington.

The suspect has a history of breaking into houses in Arnold and Severna Park. Court records show that Mr. Williams was arrested in September 1993 and charged with breaking and entering. But the charge was plea bargained to one count of theft and he was released on time served while awaiting trial.

The judge who released him on March 3 expressed remorse this morning.

"Believe me, I feel terribly distressed about this whole thing," said Circuit Court Judge Warren Duckett Jr. "He would still be in jail. I realize that and I think about that and it affects me deeply."

Mr. Williams was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting deaths of Jose E. Trias, 49, and his wife, Julie Noel Gilbert, 48, in the couple's weekend home at Winchester on the Severn.

Police spokesman Sgt. Bob Johnson said the suspect was captured at 6 p.m. as he left his home. He was scheduled to have a bail review hearing in District Court in Annapolis today.

The arrest came after Detective Edward Stratton recognized the suspect as a man he arrested last September on burglary charges.

Sergeant Johnson said police staked out the suspect's home at 5 p.m. yesterday while local TV stations were broadcasting the man's photo.

"We think he exited his house when he saw his photo on the screen," said Sergeant Johnson.

At the time of the arrest, Sergeant Johnson said, the suspect was wearing a watch owned by the murdered woman.

Other physical evidence was seized during a search of the house, but police declined to describe it or say how it was related to the double murder.

Coming out of a the court commissioner's office in Annapolis this morning, Mr. Williams -- a diminutive man standing 5 feet 1 inches tall and weighing 120 pounds -- smiled, laughed and mumbled "no" to reporters who asked if he had anything to say about the charges.

A woman who was inside the suspect's two-story house this morning declined to come to the front door. "Please leave the yard," she shouted at a reporter.

Anne Arundel police arrested the man after a security camera at a Glen Burnie bank had captured a picture of a man police say used the credit card of Mr. Trias.

A spokesman for the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Robert A. Potter, where Mr. Trias was vice president and general counsel, said, "It is gratifying that police were able to make an arrest so quickly."

Anne Arundel County police combed the East Baltimore neighborhood yesterday where the dark red, 1992 Acura belonging to the couple was found Tuesday with the keys in the ignition.

The car, stolen from the couple's house, was found in the 900 block of E. 20th St.

Detectives also showed the picture to Baltimore officers who patrol that area.

The picture, taken by a camera at the Maryland National Bank branch in Glen Burnie Mall about 9:45 p.m. Sunday, shows a man with large round glasses and a bandanna on his head leaning out the window of a car that police said is an Acura.

The couple, whose main home was in Bethesda, were found about noon Monday naked and face down on their bed, each with a bullet wound from a small-caliber gun in the back of the head.

The state medical examiner determined the two were killed between 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. Sunday, Capt. Michael P. Fitzgibbons, head of the Criminal Investigations Division, said yesterday.

The couple used the house in the 1600 block of Father Urban Lane only on weekends. Neighbors told police that Mr. Trias arrived about 3 p.m. Saturday and Ms. Gilbert arrived about 4:30 p.m.

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