The Maryland Court of Special Appeals reversed the murder conviction yesterday of a former Baltimore police officer charged with killing a woman who bore his child, paving the way for a new trial, authorities said last night.
Attorneys for James Allan Kulbicki, 38, who had been sentenced in January to life without possibility of parole, successfully argued that the former sergeant was improperly denied the right rebut testimony at his trial, said Baltimore County Deputy State's Attorney Sue Schenning.
Ms. Schenning, who prosecuted the original case, said she is awaiting a ruling from the state attorney general's office on whether to appeal yesterday's ruling to the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.
"We're going to urge the attorney general's office to consider taking it up to the Court of Appeals. It's such a serious case," Ms. Schenning said. "If that doesn't happen and we have to retry it, we will.
"We still have a very good case against him."
The Court of Special Appeals reversed the conviction due to Baltimore County Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II's decision not to allow Mr. Kulbicki to take the stand in response to the testimony of two women called by the state as rebuttal witnesses.
Both women had testified in response to testimony from Mr. Kulbicki's stepson, Darryl Marciszewski, a defense witness.
Byron L. Warnken, a University of Baltimore School of Law professor who represented Mr. Kulbicki in the appeal, said last night that he was "elated" at the court's finding. He said defense attorneys have not yet addressed whether they will seek Mr. Kulbicki's release on bail pending the new trial.
Mr. Kulbicki has been imprisoned at the Maryland House of Correction in Jessup. He has vehemently argued from prison that he did not commit the murder.
"He has assured me that he is innocent. When I read the record, I see that this is a circumstantial-evidence case. I think he's innocent," Mr. Warnken said.
"Now, 12 people in Baltimore County are going to have to determine if he is guilty or innocent."
Mr. Kulbicki was convicted of killing Gina Marie Nueslein, 22, with whom he had an adulterous three-year affair.
Ms. Nueslein, a resident of the 3300 block of Ramona Ave., Baltimore, disappeared on her way to work on Jan. 9, 1993 -- four days before a paternity hearing which was to have ordered Mr. Kulbicki to pay child support payments to her. She bore Mr. Kulbicki's child during the affair; the boy, Michael, was 2 at the time of the killing.
Ms. Nueslein was found dead the next morning of a gunshot wound in the head, her body dumped beside a trash can at the end of Grace's Quarter Road in Gunpowder State Park.
In arguing for a no-parole sentence at the time, Ms. Schenning said in court that Mr. Kulbicki showed "absolute cold-bloodedness and no remorse" in the slaying. Prosecutors focused their case on blood found on Mr. Kulbicki's jacket and blood stains found in his truck.
Henry L. Belsky, who was Mr. Kulbicki's lawyer at the trial, said last night that he was not surprised at the court's finding.
"I truly believed from the beginning there would be reversal of error that was created. I'm happy for Kulbicki and I'm happy for his wife and family," Mr. Belsky said.