Man found not guilty in slayings of girlfriend, her daughter

October 04, 1994|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Sun Staff Writer

A West Baltimore man who unsuccessfully tried to shift the blame for a double murder to a dead man was found not guilty yesterday in the stabbing deaths of his girlfriend and the woman's daughter.

A Baltimore Circuit Court jury deliberated for about three hours before exonerating Norman R. Brown -- and ending a case in which the body of the slain woman's former boyfriend was exhumed and examined for evidence.

Brown, 35, of the 800 block of Whitelock St., had been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the Sept. 22, 1993, slayings of Cynthia D. Gilliam and her 13-year-old daughter, Donnette D. Smith.

Ms. Gilliam, 30, and the girl were stabbed and beaten during an attack in their Reservoir Hill apartment. Ms. Gilliam's 10-year-old daughter, Jacqueline D. Parker, was stabbed in the face and was hospitalized for weeks.

In July, Brown's defense attorney argued that the dead man, Leroy Edward Harris, might be linked to the crime and his body should be exhumed. Baltimore Circuit Judge Roger W. Brown, who allowed the exhumation, said the dead man's right to rest in peace was outweighed by the living man's right to a fair trial.

Tests showed, however, that the hairs pulled from Mr. Harris' head did not match those found at the crime scene.

The only defense witness called in Brown's four-day trial was a police lab technician who said hairs found on the victims also did not match hairs from the defendant.

David Eaton, an assistant public defender who represented Brown, said the absence of fingerprints, hair or blood to link the defendant to the crime scene apparently swayed the jury. If he been convicted, Brown could have been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Brown was arrested within days of the slayings. He had been released from prison less than two months earlier, after serving about seven years of a 10-year sentence for manslaughter in the 1986 stabbing death of an East Baltimore man, according to court records and state corrections officials. After his arrest, Brown was returned to prison to resume the manslaughter sentence.

After Brown was found not guilty in the double slayings, he was taken back to prison, Mr. Eaton said.

Mr. Eaton said that if the arrest on murder charges was the only cause to find that Brown had violated his parole, then yesterday's verdict should lead to his release.

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