Man who killed 2 lawyers gets death sentence

March 14, 1995|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,Sun Staff Writer

Scotland Eugene Williams was granted his wish yesterday and given the death sentence by an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge, who called his slaying of two lawyers in their weekend home near Annapolis last May the "most vicious crime" possible.

Williams, 31, of Arnold, said matter-of-factly that he didn't kill Julie Gilbert, 48 and Jose E. Trias, 49, but that he was willing to pay the penalty for being convicted of their murders.

"I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time, but I think I should get it," Williams told Judge Eugene M. Lerner in a stunned courtroom.

Judge Lerner then asked Williams, "Do you think you should get the death penalty?" Williams replied, "Yes, I do."

"I didn't hurt anyone, but I think the death penalty should be instituted. That's basically it," he said.

Judge Lerner ordered two death sentences, one for each murder conviction, and a prison sentence of 114 years for the 15 other armed robbery, burglary, theft and handgun thefts on which he was convicted by a jury last Thursday.

If an appellate court overturns the death sentence, but not the convictions, the 114-year sentence would remain in effect. State law requires that the Court of Appeals review all death sentences.

In pronouncing sentence, the 63-year-old judge called the crime "horrible."

"I find this to be the most vicious crime that could ever possibly be committed, a double murder," he said.

He said he could not imagine what the victims -- who were handcuffed and shot one after the other as they lay in their bed -- went through in their final moments. "Just think of the other person, the other spouse, waiting for his bullet," he said.

The bodies of Mr. Trias and Ms. Gilbert were found May 16 in their weekend home in Winchester on the Severn, each shot once in the head.

Williams showed no emotion as the sentence was announced yesterday, but his mother, Rosezelma Williams, who sat about six feet behind him in the packed courtroom, quietly shook her head.

Earlier in the daylong hearing, Mrs. Williams pleaded for her son's life.

"I do not believe Scotty killed these people. What you see on television is not the Scotty I know. I just do not believe Scotty killed these people," she said, crying several times as she described rearing her three children on her own.

Diedra Smith, Williams' sister, recounted a telephone conversation she had with her brother while he was serving with the Army in the Persian Gulf war.

"While I was speaking to him on the phone, there were bombs going off overhead, and he was saying 'hold on, hold on,' as the bombs crashed all around him," said Ms. Smith, 30, of Glen Burnie.

Lawrence Raifman, a defense psychologist, described Willams as a loner who was prone to depression and who could never meet his mother's high expectations.

"He hates to depend on people because, he said, they disappoint you," Mr. Raifman told the judge.

Mr. Raifman, who also evaluated three-time killer John F. Thanos, said Williams does not fit the "violent, predatory profile" of killers such as Thanos, who was executed last May.

Unlike Thanos, who bragged about his killings before he was executed, Williams didn't admit committing the murders and refused to discuss them in a series of five interviews, Mr. Raifman said.

He also said that Williams' decision to ask for the death penalty was consistent with "taking the easy way out."

Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee called the judge's decision "courageous."

"If the lives of Jose Trias and Julie Gilbert are to mean anything, this is the very least we can do," he told reporters.

Williams' lawyers also praised the judge.

"You just saw a very compassionate human being make the most difficult decision a man can make, said Craig M. Gendler. "He obviously thought about it carefully."

Williams, who smiled for television cameras throughout his trial, seemed jovial as he was escorted in handcuffs out of the courthouse by sheriff's deputies.

He grinned and bantered with reporters, saying he wanted to thank the investigating officer, Detective Timothy Zywiolek, for providing him with cigarettes while he was in jail awaiting trial.

Asked why he requested the death penalty, he shouted back, "Why not?" as the door of the sheriff's van door slammed shut behind him.

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