DeLong called 'cunning' as murder trial begins

August 25, 1994|By Darren M. Allen | Darren M. Allen,Sun Staff Writer

The thought of killing his mother had been building inside Jason Aaron DeLong for years before he and his girlfriend of one week took knives to his mother's Westminster apartment and plunged them into his mother and her boyfriend, a prosecutor said yesterday.

During opening statements before a nine-woman, three-man Carroll Circuit Court jury, Baltimore Assistant State's Attorney Timothy J. Doory called Mr. DeLong a "cunning" thief and criminal who decided, along with "the purple-haired girl of his dreams," to kill Cathryn Brace Farrar and George William Wahl so they could steal her car and money.

"He and his newfound girlfriend decided, for the shallowest of reasons, to kill his mother so they could steal her meager, meager, meager, meager belongings, her tiny bank account and her ancient car so they could go to Florida and start their new life together," Mr. Doory said.

The "new life" for Mr. DeLong, 19, and Sara Elizabeth Citroni, 18 -- who pleaded guilty to the killings last month -- didn't last long. The pair was arrested in Palm Beach County four days after the stabbings.

Yesterday was the second day in Mr. DeLong's trial on charges of first-degree murder. Prosecutors are seeking to put him in prison for the rest of his life without parole.

In a way, prosecutors and Mr. DeLong's attorneys agreed on one point yesterday, as they have since last year: Mr. DeLong and Citroni stabbed the Westminster pair to death on July 29, 1993.

But where prosecutors are portraying the killings as a cold-blooded conspiracy, defense attorneys are arguing that the deaths were the result of years of relentless sexual, physical and emotional abuse of Mr. DeLong by his mother.

Mr. DeLong confessed to the crimes hours after he and Citroni were arrested, court records show. Mr. Doory, in his opening statement, quoted from that confession: "I've wanted to do this for a long time. I'm glad Sara finally got me over the hump."

That hump is what Baltimore attorney Luther C. West spent two hours explaining to the jurors yesterday. Mr. West told them his client "almost from birth" was neglected, abused and tortured by Ms. Farrar.

"Jason was literally scared to death of his mother," Mr. West said. He told the jury Mr. DeLong suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder because of the abuse.

"That is the stress of torture, that is the stress of mental torture, that is the stress of neglect, that is the stress of being unloved," Mr. West said. "She didn't touch him, she didn't love him."

After years of being shuttled between Ms. Farrar -- in North Carolina and in Maryland -- and his father, Donald DeLong -- who lives in Florida -- the younger DeLong decided in the months before the stabbings to return to Westminster and his mother.

"After all of the sex, all of the intercourse, after all of the torture, after all of the neglect, he goes back," Mr. West said.

Mr. DeLong is expected to take the stand, Mr. West said.

Circuit Judge Francis M. Arnold, who is presiding over the trial, expects testimony to continue for four weeks.

According to Mr. Doory, one of the key prosecution witnesses is a fellow teen-age runaway friend of Citroni's who drove her and Mr. DeLong to Florida in Ms. Farrar's car. He is expected to be tomorrow's lead witness.

The jury can expect John C. Cheezum, of Baltimore County, to recount Citroni's and Mr. DeLong's story in detail, Mr. Doory said.

According to a copy of one of the statements young Cheezum gave to police last August, Citroni and Mr. DeLong discussed killing Ms. Farrar and Mr. Wahl for most of the week they knew each other.

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