Jurors in the kidnapping trial of James Howard Van Metre III deliberated for nearly 2 1/2 hours without reaching a verdict yesterday. They were scheduled to return to U.S. District Court in Baltimore this morning.
Van Metre, 38, is charged with kidnapping Holly Ann Blake, 28, from a Gettysburg, Pa., truck stop Sept. 26, 1991, taking her to a farm his brother rented in Harney, Md., strangling her to death and then disposing her body in a bonfire.
A Carroll County jury convicted him of murder, but an appeals court overturned the conviction. The court ruled that state prosecutors didn't give him a speedy trial, violating his right to a trial within 180 days of arrest.
Van Metre is serving a 15 1/2 - to 35-year sentence for raping a Mennonite woman 11 days before the killing. He confessed to the rape and the slaying, and said he killed Blake because she criticized the size of his genitalia.
Prosecutors ridiculed that defense yesterday, saying Van Metre intended to kidnap Blake in Pennsylvania and sexually assault her in Maryland.
They gave jurors a photograph of Van Metre posing naked to dispute his claim about the size of his genitalia. They reminded jurors that keys to handcuffs were found at the slaying scene, an indication that Van Metre might have cuffed Blake. Prosecutors reiterated that he tried to arrange the contract killing of the woman he raped to prevent her from testifying at his kidnapping trial.
Pub Date: 5/29/96