Police rule out link between killings

June 07, 1994|By Kris Antonelli and Dennis O'Brien | Kris Antonelli and Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writers

Anne Arundel County police have ruled out any link between the deaths of two prominent Bethesda lawyers in their waterfront retreat last month and the slaying last September of nightclub owner Joanne Valentine, officials said yesterday.

Because the homicides occurred within a few miles of each other in Arnold and because Scotland Williams, 31, the suspect in the slayings of Jose E. Trias and Julie N. Gilbert, lives in the same area, some investigators suggested that Mr. Williams may have been involved in the Valentine case.

But Mr. Williams, who was indicted yesterday in the deaths of the lawyers, had been in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center awaiting trial on burglary charges on Sept. 26 -- the night Mrs. Valentine was killed, Richard Baker, Detention Center superintendent, confirmed.

Mrs. Valentine, 47, had pulled into the driveway of her home on Broadwater Road about 4 a.m. after closing her nightclubs, A. L. Gators and Rumblefish, when four men confronted her and one of them shot her. Her assailants did not take the $3,000 she had or her jewelry, police said. Her home, like that of Mr. Trias' and Ms. Gilbert's, faces the water.

Although police arrested a suspect and found the gun used in the Valentine slaying, the charges against the man were dropped for lack of evidence.

Yesterday, a county grand jury indicted Mr. Williams on 15 counts, including two counts of first-degree murder, armed robbery, and robbery and separate counts of handgun violations, burglary and theft charges.

Mr. Williams has been held without bond at the Detention Center since he was arrested May 19 in front of his house in the 800 block of Bradford Ave.

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee said in announcing the indictments yesterday that he would try the case himself. He said he is still deciding whether to seek the death penalty.

According to charging documents, Mr. Williams broke into the home of Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Trias in the 1600 block of Father Urban Lane through a sliding glass door.

Police estimate that they died between 9 p.m. Saturday, May 14, and 9 a.m. May 15.

The couple, whose principal residence was in Bethesda, were found about noon May 16 nude and lying face down on their bed, each with a bullet wound from a small-caliber gun in the back of the head.

Police said they focused on Mr. Williams when a security camera at the Maryland National Bank branch at Glen Burnie Mall photographed him using Mr. Trias' credit card to withdraw cash about 9:40 p.m. May 15.

The arrest came after Detective Edward Stratton recognized the man in the bank videotapes as the same man he had arrested in the Severna Park burglaries.

At the time of his arrest, police said, Mr. Williams was wearing Ms. Gilbert's watch. Other evidence was seized in a search of the house, but police have declined to describe it.

The suspect, who had a history of breaking into houses in Arnold and Severna Park, had just been released from jail two months earlier after serving six months for theft.

Court records show that Mr. Williams was arrested in September 1993 and charged with breaking and entering. He pleaded guilty to one count of theft in March and was released on the time he served while awaiting trial.

Ms. Gilbert and Mr. Trias used the house as a weekend retreat.

Mr. Trias, 49, was a legal scholar who worked for the Hughes Institute, the largest private philanthropy in the country with $7 billion in assets. It funds basic medical research.

Colleagues called Ms. Gilbert, 48, one of the country's top 10 tax lawyers who dealt with tax exempt organizations.

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