Missing convicted killer returned to Balto. Co. Woman had jumped bail as her trial was ending

February 27, 1996|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Latina Rose Smith was back in the Baltimore County Detention Center last night -- 2 1/2 months after jumping bail on the eve of her murder conviction in the fatal stabbing of a nurse last February.

Despite her absence, a Baltimore County jury convicted Smith on Dec. 13 of robbery and first-degree murder in the killing of Myra Elaine Harrison, 30, a Johns Hopkins Hospital nurse.

Smith, 24, of Baltimore faces a possible sentence of life without parole.

When she failed to return to his courtroom in December, Circuit Judge John Grason Turnbull II is sued a bench warrant and ordered Smith's $100,000 bail forfeited.

Smith was arrested about 5:30 p.m. yesterday, said county police Cpl. Arthur Nilsen.

The Police Department's Career Criminal Unit and the FBI tracked her to a Red Roof Inn in the 1200 block of Laurel Bowie Road in Prince George's County.

Smith and a co-defendant, Bronwyn Byers, were arrested shortly after a man on horseback reported seeing two women kicking snow over a body on Carroll Road in northern Baltimore County.

Police said Smith had a bloody knife in her sock, blood on her body and several sets of Ms. Harrison's keys and her pager. Each suspect gave the same East Fayette Street address.

When Smith failed to appear for the last day of her trial, defense attorney Margaret Mead said that her client was afraid.

While there was no dispute that Smith had tried to hide the body, the lawyer said no strong evidence existed that her client was the one who had stabbed Ms. Harrison as the three women rode north in a car along the Jones Falls Expressway.

Byers, a 25-year-old Morgan State University student and Army Reservist, was convicted Feb. 6 in a separate trial of second-degree murder. She faces up to 30 years at sentencing Monday.

Byers testified that it was Smith alone who killed Ms. Harrison after confronting her about a debt.

Byers said she was lost as she drove their car along the JFX that day and was shocked when Smith suddenly began stabbing Ms. Harrison. Smith then coerced her into helping to hide the body, Byers said.

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