Staubitz implicates defendant

September 06, 1995|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,Sun Staff Writer

A former ranking Maryland health official, convicted last year of burglarizing homes in the Baltimore area, testified yesterday that Roy Monroe Robertson confessed while they were serving time in a Hagerstown prison to killing William Charles Prodoehl.

"He told me that three or four times," said John M. Staubitz Jr., who at one time was the second-highest official in the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. "One time he told me he shot him twice in the head and another time he said he killed him."

Staubitz told the 16-member jury yesterday that the confession came while he was helping Mr. Robertson write down his recollections of what happened the day Mr. Prodoehl, a Westminster roofer, was killed.

Mr. Prodoehl was found dead in the snow on Feb. 18, 1993, by his wife, Gina, and Mr. Robertson. The two -- who had been having an affair for about three years before the killing -- went looking for Mr. Prodoehl when he did not return home from a fishing trip in Taneytown the night before, police have said.

The three had been living together in the Prodoehls' Singer Drive townhouse for about a year before the victim's death, police have said.

Mr. Robertson was charged with first-degree murder in November 1994 in Mr. Prodoehl's death.

Police testified last week that Mrs. Prodoehl has not been charged, but is still considered a suspect in the death of her husband.

"He [Mr. Robertson] was very concerned that Mrs. Prodoehl wasn't going to testify in his behalf," said Staubitz, who was working in the prison library at the Roxbury Correctional Institution in Hagerstown, where both were incarcerated. "She was his main alibi, that both of them were shopping together."

Mr. Robertson was serving a two-year sentence in Roxbury after pleading guilty in August 1994 to molesting a woman and showing a pornographic movie to a girl.

Staubitz, who was convicted of misconduct in office in 1992, entered Roxbury in June 1994. Before that, he had been incarcerated at the Carroll County Detention Center since his arrest on the burglary charges in September 1993.

In a testimony rich with detail, Staubitz told the jury of seven men and nine women what prosecutors and police have alleged for the past two weeks of the trial: that Mr. Robertson met Mrs. Prodoehl at the Westminster Kmart, switched cars with her and followed Mr. Prodoehl to their fishing spot in Taneytown.

Staubitz said Mr. Robertson told him that he came up behind Mr. Prodoehl and shot him twice in the head. When police started investigating the killing, Mr. Robertson threw the gun into Big Pipe Creek from the Route 140 overpass south of Taneytown, Staubitz said.

"He thought it would rust and then the police would supposedly not be able to tell whether it had been fired or was the same gun used in the crime," Staubitz said.

During cross-examination, Mr. Robertson's attorney, Carroll County Public Defender Daniel Shemer, said that prosecutors had given Staubitz police reports to help him prepare his testimony.

He also noted that Staubitz is scheduled for a sentence reduction hearing in March, after which he could be released in September 1996.

But Staubitz insisted that he was not testifying in exchange for favors from the prosecutors.

"It is my understanding that I am not going to get anything in return for my testimony," Staubitz said. "I don't recall [my attorney] saying whether the prosecutors would oppose or not oppose my motion for early release."

Mr. Shemer pressed Staubitz, saying that he has lied to investigators and asked others, such as his mother and sister, to lie for him.

Mr. Shemer offered as evidence a resume that falsely stated that Staubitz had received a master's degree in business administration from the University of Baltimore and had attended the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

But Staubitz said the document was a fantasy resume written as an assignment for a seminar in Philadelphia he attended with members of his staff at the state health department.

"They asked us to put together our attainable goals and objectives in a resume manner," Staubitz said. "That was never submitted for any job application."

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