Witness testifies he heard screams, shots over phone

September 21, 1995|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

An acquaintance of two women who were slain in a Severn home in 1993 told a Howard County Circuit Court jury yesterday that he telephoned the victims, learned that the defendant was at the house and heard screams and gunshots before he was disconnected.

Edward Love Anderson, 24, testified that Darris Ware was at the house in the 1900 block of Bastille Court when Betina Kristi Gentry and Cynthia Allen were shot to death about 12:30 p.m. Dec. 30, 1993.

Anderson, who is serving a life sentence for a 1989 murder conviction, said he had called Ms. Gentry's home collect from the Maryland Correctional Institute in Jessup about noon.

He said he had talked for half an hour with Mrs. Allen when he heard Ms. Gentry screaming in the background. He said Mrs. Allen put down the phone to investigate and that he heard more screaming and three gunshots.

The next few seconds "seemed like an eternity," he said, until the phone line went dead when someone on the other end hung up, Anderson said.

Anderson's account was perhaps the most damaging evidence introduced in the seven days of testimony in the trial of Mr. Ware, who is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Ms. Gentry, 18 and Mrs. Allen, a 22-year-old mother of two, were found shot in the chest and temple about 1 p.m. in the home Ms. Gentry shared with her mother.

Mr. Ware, a former Navy seaman and one-time fiance of Ms. Gentry's, could get the death penalty if convicted.

In testimony yesterday, witnesses recalled Anderson making frantic phone calls from the prison to their homes, asking them to check on Ms. Gentry after he heard the gunshots.

"He said get somebody to go over to Kristi's house quick," said Jennifer Cruz, 21, an office clerk from Glen Burnie. "He was panicky, and he kept repeating himself over and over."

Clyburn Cunningham Jr., the father of Ms. Cruz' fiance, testified that the call prompted him to walk over to Ms. Gentry's house, but that he got no answer when he knocked on her door.

Deputy State's Attorney Gerald K. Anders also placed into evidence telephone records that confirmed the phone calls were made.

Jeffrey Allen, Mrs. Allen's husband, testified that Ms. Gentry came to his house three hours before the slayings. She was alone, upset and complaining about a fight she had just had with Mr. Ware, he said.

Mr. Allen testified that Mr. Ware apparently had punched Ms. Gentry in the eye and that "she was calling him all kinds of names."

In cross-examination, assistant public defender Mark Blumberg attacked Anderson's credibility by emphasizing his murder conviction.

Mr. Anderson was convicted for his role in a 1989 robbery and murder in which a 74-year-old barkeeper died after an accomplice of Anderson's hit him on the head with a baseball bat.

Anderson admitted his role but said he was only 18 at the time.

The trial was transferred to Howard County after Mr. Ware's lawyers requested the move to ensure a fair trial.

The case, being heard before Circuit Judge Dennis M. Sweeney, is expected to go to the jury by the middle of next week.

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