Ex-policeman found guilty in murder of girlfriend Trial was Kulbicki's second since 1993 slaying

he could get life term

November 23, 1995|By Elaine Tassy | Elaine Tassy,SUN STAFF

James Allan Kulbicki, a former Baltimore police sergeant, was convicted of first-degree murder last night in the 1993 killing of 22-year-old Gina Marie Nueslein, with whom he had a three-year adulterous affair that bore a son.

In the retrial, a jury of nine men and three women took less than three hours to return its verdict, which included a conviction for handgun use in a felony. Kulbicki, who faces a life term without the possibility of parole, will be sentenced Dec. 18.

After the verdict was read, Jennifer Nueslein, the victim's 18-year-old sister, cried. Kulbicki shook his head slowly.

Kulbicki had been convicted of murder in October 1993. But the Court of Special Appeals overturned that verdict because the judge had refused to let Kulbicki rebut key testimony.

In the retrial in Baltimore County Circuit Court, prosecutors said Kulbicki, 39, shot Ms. Nueslein in the head at close range in his Ford pickup and dumped her body at Gunpowder Falls State Park because he did not want to take responsibility for their son.

The slaying occurred Jan. 9, 1993, four days before Ms. Nueslein and Kulbicki were scheduled to attend a paternity hearing, prosecutors said.

"He committed a violent, vicious, senseless, homicidal execution because he's that cold," Assistant State's Attorney James O'C. Gentry Jr. said in closing statements yesterday.

During the trial, he and Deputy State's Attorney Sue A. Schenning called a witness who said emphatically that she saw Kulbicki in the park at 4:40 p.m. the day of the slaying. She recognized him later, when she saw him in handcuffs on television as the person charged with the crime.

Detectives and investigators testified that blood found in the truck was Ms. Nueslein's and that a skull fragment also found there was most likely hers. A DNA expert said there was a small chance the fragment could be from someone else.

Jennifer Nueslein testified that Kulbicki was outside watching the Nuesleins' house the night before the slaying, apparently angry that Gina had begun dating another police officer and that she was seeking to make Kulbicki pay to support her son, Michael.

"It don't get much better than this," Mr. Gentry said in a rebuttal closing statement, telling jurors: "There's more than enough evidence to convict this man."

But in her closing statement, defense attorney Patricia Hall offered what she called a "slew" of reasonable doubt to acquit Kulbicki.

A key witness had described Kulbicki as a white man in his thirties with dark hair -- which would fit half the men on the jury, the attorney said. She also argued that investigators did "a sloppy, stinking job" by looking for no other suspects or evidence that would link Kulbicki to the crime scene.

She said Kulbicki did not have a motive because he would have had to pay child support regardless. "These are important questions that need to be answered before you can convict someone of first-degree murder," she added.

During the trial, several witnesses said Kulbicki, who lived in the 3400 block of Toone St., was running errands to the hardware store, dry cleaners and gas station when the crime occurred. His wife, Connie, 38, testified that she was with him after the errands.

Mrs. Kulbicki, a dental assistant, said after the verdict that she has no plans to divorce her husband and believes in his innocence, adding, "I miss him a lot."

The verdict was announced to Judge Barbara Kerr Howe about 7:20 p.m. Immediately afterward, Kulbicki was led to the lockup, but turned and mouthed the words, "I love you" to his wife, and "Be good," to his son Allan, 11.

The Nueslein family was tearful and subdued outside the courtroom after the verdict. "I just thank God this is all over with and that I'll never have to go through that again," said Joseph Nueslein, the victim's father.

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