Verdict expected today in slaying of lawyers

March 09, 1995|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

An Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury was expected to decide today whether Scotland Eugene Williams is guilty of shooting to death two lawyers in their weekend home near Annapolis in May.

The jury began deliberating late yesterday afternoon over the fate of Mr. Williams, 31, of Arnold.

He is charged with first-degree murder, robbery, burglary, theft and handgun violations in the deaths of Jose E. Trias, 49, and Julie Noel Gilbert, 48, Washington lawyers whose bodies were found May 16 in their home in Winchester on the Severn.

An autopsy showed each victim had been shot once with a .22-caliber revolver placed against the back of the head.

In closing arguments yesterday, Linda Ostovitz, Mr. Williams' lawyer, said the evidence showed her client was a thief, but not a murderer.

She said Mr. Williams stole Ms. Gilbert's red Acura Legend and used both victims' automated teller machine cards, but that nothing proved he was in the victims' home the weekend they were killed.

In a seven-day trial, prosecutors presented 36 witnesses and a mountain of scientific evidence that included shoe prints, hair and a DNA print from a drinking glass in the victims' kitchen that experts testified were "consistent with" shoes and samples taken from Mr. Williams.

Ms. Ostovitz said none of the evidence firmly established that Mr. Williams was ever in the house.

"The state has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that Scotland Williams is guilty of theft, but that is a far cry from a conviction for murder," she told the jury.

Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia M. Ferris called the defense arguments a "smoke screen" and argued that there was "overwhelming evidence" to show that Mr. Williams handcuffed the victims, then shot them as they lay side by side in their bed.

"The defense has put up a series of smoke screens, red herrings and just plain misrepresentations of what the evidence really is," Ms. Ferris said.

She recounted the police investigation, which focused on Mr. Williams when a detective identified him from bank videotapes taken as he allegedly withdrew $3,000 in cash using the victims' bank cards.

"Eventually, they knew who they were looking for. They had his picture," she said, holding up the black and white photo for jurors to see.

Using poster-size sheets of paper to list 22 pieces of evidence introduced by prosecutors, she said that "common sense" dictated a guilty verdict.

"In order to find him not guilty, all this would have to be pure coincidence," she said, referring to the sheets. The list included Mr. Williams admitting the slayings to a fellow inmate at the county jail, his having Ms. Gilbert's watch and $2,160 in cash the night he was arrested and the discovery by police of two sets of handcuffs and a bloody shirt when they searched his home.

"You should find him guilty for the most important reason of all, and that is because he is guilty," he said.

Prosecutors are asking for the death penalty in the case, which means that if Mr. Williams is convicted, he will be sentenced by the jury that convicted him or by Judge Eugene M. Lerner, who presided over the trial.

Mr. Williams also is entitled under state law to decide whether he wants the jury or the judge to decide on the death penalty.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.