Man convicted of killing his parents relatives thank the prosecutors

March 31, 1995|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,Sun Staff Writer

A Baltimore County jury took less than an hour last night to convict James Garland Finneyfrock of murdering both of his parents in a rifle ambush as they returned to their Cedar Beach home after a night out more than a year ago.

Prosecutors said he killed Wade and Susan Finneyfrock for their money, to win back a girlfriend with whom he was "obsessed."

Finneyfrock, 29, put his head down on the defense table as he was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder.

About two dozen family members and friends, some of them prosecution witnesses, were in the courtroom to hear the verdict. The family later thanked prosecutors James O'C. Gentry Jr. and Mickey Norman. The closest relatives, weeping afterward, said they did not want to comment on the conviction.

Circuit Judge J. William Hinkel scheduled sentencing for May 24 and ordered a psychiatric evaluation at the request of Assistant Public Defender Jennifer B. Aist.

The prosecution is seeking consecutive sentences of life without parole for Finneyfrock, who already is serving 10 years for the robberies of two cabdrivers.

In her closing argument, Mrs. Aist emphasized the circumstantial nature of the state's case, which focused chiefly on lies, inconsistencies, and strange or suspicious behavior by her client.

She attributed these to the defendant's shock at finding his parents dead, then realizing almost immediately that he was the suspect. Finneyfrock did not testify.

The four-day trial concluded yesterday with testimony by Detective Carroll L. Bollinger Jr., who investigated the Nov. 13, 1993, homicides and did not arrest Finneyfrock until a year later.

Detective Bollinger explained that from the first night, Finneyfrock kept talking -- to the police, family members, neighbors, friends and a television reporter -- and giving widely varying accounts of where he went that night, how he found his parents and what was missing in a burglary that clearly had been staged.

Finneyfrock was caught trying to plant a missing house key that became an issue in the case, and lied about guns supposedly stolen in the burglary, the detective said.

Finneyfrock, who was having financial problems, had moved that morning into his parents' home in the 2300 block of Poplar Road in the Essex community, according to the testimony.

He went bow-hunting with an uncle that afternoon, then went to check if flowers he had sent his girlfriend had arrived.

Just after 10 p.m., he reported finding his parents shot to death -- his father, 54 and retired from the Navy, just inside the door, and his 51-year-old mother just outside.

In one of the most chilling parts of the trial, his father's sister, Della Rott of White Hall, described how Finneyfrock re-enacted for her the way the killings must have occurred.

"I was in the dining room with Jimmy," she told the jury. "He said, 'Aunt Della, do you want to know how this happened?' He proceeded to describe very vividly what had happened to his mother and father."

Seated on a chair between the living room and the dining room, "Jimmy knelt on the chair and raised his arm like he had a gun," said Mrs. Rott, extending her arms as if she were aiming a rifle and repeating her nephew's words: "Boom. Boom. Boom. Boom."

"He was excited, talking about this," she said.

Mrs. Rott and her husband had been out that evening with the Finneyfrock couple, having dinner in Towson and shopping in Owings Mills, and discussing a trip they all were to take to Florida, she said.

The Rotts said good night to the Finneyfrocks about 9:45 p.m., she said, and at 10:30 they received a telephone call from a sister-in-law saying the Finneyfrocks had been murdered.

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