Teen charged as accessory in slaying of counselor Girl, 15, accompanied suspect to Virginia

November 29, 1995|By John Rivera | John Rivera,SUN STAFF

Jane DeCosta, a Timonium teen who spent nearly three weeks on the run with the youth charged with killing a Sheppard Pratt counselor in early October, was indicted by a Baltimore County grand jury Monday and charged as an adult with being an accessory to murder.

The grand jury Monday also had indicted Benjamin Scott Garris, 16, of Frederick on a first-degree murder charge, a formality because he had been charged earlier by police with the same offense.

Miss DeCosta, 15, had never been charged in the case.

Both teen-agers were indicted in the slaying of Sharon Edwards, a counselor who was stabbed in a cottage at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson during her first night of work.

The Garris youth was a resident of the cottage at the time.

The youth was indicted on two counts of attempted murder, first-degree arson, armed robbery, common law robbery and a bomb offense.

Police contend that he set a fire and rigged a bomb at the residential cottage where he lived at the psychiatric hospital, and where the slaying occurred Oct. 8.

Miss DeCosta was charged with being an accessory before the fact of first-degree murder; being an accessory before the fact of first-degree arson; conspiracy to commit first-degree murder; conspiracy to commit first-degree arson; and being an accessory after the fact of first-degree murder.

The Garris youth was arrested Oct. 27 in Virginia Beach after he allegedly tried to steal items from a convenience store.

Miss DeCosta accompanied him to Virginia, police said.

She was found several days later by police in a Virginia Beach motel room a few blocks from the convenience store.

Miss DeCosta of the 100 block of Northwood Drive in Timonium surrendered to police at the Towson Precinct about 8:15 p.m. yesterday.

She was denied bail during a hearing before a court commissioner and was held last night at the Baltimore County Women's Detention Center.

She is to appear before a Towson District Court judge this morning for a bail review hearing.

Miss DeCosta's indictment came as a surprise yesterday because police had never mentioned that they intended to charge her with any crime.

After she was reunited with her parents, she told them that she willingly ran off with the Garris youth after the fatal stabbing, slipping out of her parents' home to join him, police said.

After they were reunited, Miss DeCosta told her father, Richard DeCosta, who traveled to Virginia Beach to search for his daughter, that she and the Garris youth survived by eating at shelters and pizza parlors, and sleeping under bridges and in the woods.

Her parents could not be reached for comment last night.

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