Accounts of assault differ in man's trial Lawyer says shooting was in self-defense

March 05, 1996|By Amy L. Miller | Amy L. Miller,SUN STAFF

A former Winfield man, shot in the back last summer while trying to retrieve his belongings from an apartment, was trying to leave when when he was attacked, prosecutors told a Carroll County jury during opening statements yesterday.

The defense, led by former Carroll County State's Attorney Thomas E. Hickman, said Philip Stephen Malpas was merely trying to defend himself and his property when Richard S. Craigie was shot last August.

"If [Mr. Malpas] had not taken the action he did that night, you'd probably be sitting here trying Mr. Craigie for murder," Mr. Hickman said. describing Mr. Craigie as a large man with a short temper who drank heavily.

Mr. Malpas, 44 of the 6000 block of Edmondson Ave. was charged last in August with attempted murder, assault with intent to murder, using a handgun in the commission of a crime and battery after the incident at the apartment in the 1600 block of Sams Creek Road.

According to police, Mr. Craigie and his now-estranged wife had been renting the apartment for about a year and a half from Mr. Malpas and his girlfriend, Barbara Van Rossum, when Mrs. Craigie left with their children in July 1995. The apartment is in the front portion of the house where Ms. Van Rossum lives.

Police have said Mr. Craigie fell behind in his rent and utility bills and agreed to leave a dinette set with Ms. Van Rossum as collateral until he could pay off the debt.

However, he didn't tell Mrs. Craigie, who called police when Mr. Malpas refused to return the dinette set on Aug. 8, 1995. That day Mrs. Craigie went to her husband, telling him "I can't do anything about this."

About a half-hour later, Mr. Craigie went to the Sams Creek Road property to retrieve his boat, a swing set and some other property.

At this point, the prosecution and defense versions of the story differ. diverge widely. Prosecutors claim that Mr. Craigie intended to give Mr. Malpas $250 to pay off part of the debt and retrieve the dinette set.

Deputy State's Attorney Martha Ann Sitterding also said yesterday that when Mr. Malpas refused to let Mr. Craigie into the apartment, the former tenant picked up a spade to break a window and retrieve his property.

Ms. Sitterding told jurors in her opening statement that Mr. Craigie had dropped the spade and was turning to go when Mr. Malpas shot the man in the back, just inches from his spinal cord.

Mr. Hickman told jurors that Mr. Craigie -- who he said had been drinking heavily before the confrontation -- charged at Mr. Malpas with the spade, screaming obscenities and threatening to kill him.

Mr. Hickman also said that in the month before the confrontation, Mr. Craigie had engaged in screaming arguments on over the phone, had thrown things in the apartment and threatened to kill his wife, his brother-in-law and his landlord.

Testimony in the case is expected to continue today.

Pub Date: 3/05/96

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