Goodwich slaying trial to be moved Handyman is charged in shooting of student

November 21, 1995|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

The Debra Anne Goodwich slaying case, which grabbed headlines for weeks last year, will be tried outside Baltimore County, because defense attorneys say publicity would make it hard to find an impartial jury there.

Assistant Public Defender Patricia L. Chappell asked yesterday that the trial of Wallace Dudley Ball, scheduled to begin Monday, be moved.

"I believe a lot of people know about this particular homicide, and we feel we would lose too many jurors as being influenced by the crime," Ms. Chappell said in a county Circuit Court hearing.

Requests for removal are granted as a matter of course in death penalty cases. Circuit Administrative Judge Edward A. DeWaters Jr. will reassign the case.

Ms. Goodwich, a 19-year-old student at Catonsville Community College, went to her parents' home in the 7900 block of Greenspring Ave. in the affluent Stevenson community to pick up her mail Sept. 30, 1994.

Prosecutors say Mr. Ball, a handyman who had done some work at the home, was in the middle of a robbery when she walked in. Prosecutors charge that he shot her several times in the chest. Her mother, Arlene Goodwich, found her body in the living room.

Ms. Goodwich, who was a part-time dancer on The Block, had been living with a roommate in the 800 block of Park Ave.

Months later, police charged Mr. Ball, who then was living in Knoxville, Tenn., and doing roofing work.

Ms. Chappell said the decision to ask for the trial's removal was made with Mr. Ball, 34, who formerly lived in Randallstown.

Legal experts disagree on the wisdom of seeking a transfer for the Goodwich trial.

Michael Millemann, professor at the University of Maryland law school in Baltimore, said such requests hurt Baltimore County defendants.

A decade-long study showed that "cases are transferred to jurisdictions in which juries are more death-penalty prone," he said.

He said the cases rarely are sent to Baltimore or other places where jurors are considered less likely to call for the death penalty.

Others say defense attorneys customarily ask for transfers where their clients' lives are at stake.

"A large percentage of death cases are removed," said Thomas J. Saunders, chief of the Death Penalty Division in the state Public Defender's Office. "They are very highly visible and highly emotional."

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