Plea talks under way for 1 of 2 teens

June 24, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

Lawyers in the case of Sarah E. Citroni, one of two teen-agers charged in the fatal stabbings of a Westminster couple last summer, are negotiating toward a plea bargain, court records and courthouse sources indicate.

Yesterday, in a pretrial settlement conference ordered by Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr., Ms. Citroni's lawyers and prosecutors discussed the case for about an hour, according to Brian Green, one of Ms. Citroni's attorneys.

Mr. Green, a Carroll public defender, declined to comment on the content of the closed-door session. He also declined to comment on whether his client has entered plea negotiations with prosecutors.

However, the purpose of meetings like yesterday's is for both sides to discuss potential plea deals in front of a judge. Such conferences are routine in major felony cases heard in Carroll and elsewhere.

Ms. Citroni, 18, and Jason Aaron DeLong, 19, have been charged in the fatal stabbings of Cathryn Brace Farrar -- Mr. DeLong's mother -- and her boyfriend, George William Wahl, on July 29. Ms. Farrar, 39, a nurse's aide, had been stabbed more than 80 times. Mr. Wahl, 35, a brother-in-law of Carroll State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman, had more than 40 wounds.

Westminster police discovered the bodies Aug. 2 and arrested Mr. DeLong and Ms. Citroni several days later in South Florida.

Both have been charged as adults with two counts of first-degree murder and other felonies. Prosecutors are seeking life sentences without parole for both defendants.

That Ms. Citroni might enter a plea deal is not surprising to Mr. DeLong's attorney, who said yesterday that "there is not going to be a settlement" in his client's case.

Since shortly after he was charged, Mr. DeLong has admitted to stabbing his mother. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, and he intends to tell a jury he was driven insane by years of relentless sexual and physical abuse at the hands of his mother, his lawyer has said.

In contrast, Ms. Citroni's lawyers have been mum on what her defense would be beyond pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. They said she has had at least one "psychotic episode" since she has been in custody.

Both defendants have undergone court-ordered psychiatric evaluations at the Clifton T. Perkins Hospital Center in Jessup.

Apparently, observers say, Perkins psychologists have determined that Mr. DeLong and Ms. Citroni were sane at the time of the killings and are competent to stand trial. If the finding had been otherwise, trials would be unlikely and there would be no need for a pretrial settlement conference.

Both are scheduled to be tried in August, and a pretrial motions hearing is set for July 8. Should Ms. Citroni enter into a deal with prosecutors, it likely would be made public during the pretrial motions hearing.

While no details of a possible deal have been released, there would be no point in making a deal unless Ms. Citroni received a sentence less severe than the life without parole that prosecutors are seeking.

Baltimore Assistant State's Attorney Timothy J. Doory, who is prosecuting the cases because of Mr. Hickman's relationship to Mr. Wahl, could not be reached yesterday for comment on the pretrial settlement conference. In the past, he has declined to discuss the case.

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