First-degree murder conviction upheld in Columbia teen's death Man was found guilty of strangling girl, 15

November 24, 1996|By CAPITAL NEWS SERVICE

ANNAPOLIS -- The Maryland Court of Special Appeals upheld Friday the first-degree-murder conviction of Curtis Aden Jamison in the 1993 strangulation of a 15-year-old Columbia girl.

Jamison, 31, of Baltimore was convicted Oct. 24, 1995, in Howard County of killing Tara Allison Gladden because he believed her family was about to come forward with charges of statutory rape.

Tara's body was found in a drainage tunnel near her home in Town Center, not quite a month after she disappeared and one day after what would have been her 16th birthday.

Jamison was arrested after a 17-month search and tried. On Jan. 19, he was sentenced to life without parole by Howard County Circuit Judge James B. Dudley.

Jamison, who at the time of his conviction was serving a 20-year sentence at Hagerstown's Roxbury Correctional Institute for statutory rape charges involving two other girls, appealed, arguing that the trial court had erroneously admitted evidence against him.

Most of that evidence involved a friend of Tara's, who at age 12 became her secret rival for Jamison's sexual attention. At the trial, the girl, then 16, admitted knowing about the killing for almost a month,but testified she said nothing for fear of losing Jamison.

She also testified that Jamison had told her he was a drug dealer -- testimony with which Jamison's lawyer, Michael Braudes, took issue in his appeal.

Braudes wrote that even if Jamison was a drug dealer, that fact should not have been admitted because it could have prejudiced the jury against Jamison.

Braudes further argued that during the prosecution's closing argument, the burden of proof was unfairly shifted from the state to the defendant.

Jamison had told a detective that on the day Tara was killed, he was with a friend working on a car.

In court, the prosecutor said Jamison had informed police that several witnesses could support his alibi, but that Jamison had produced none during the trial.

Braudes wrote: "It was the state's obligation to produce witnesses to establish Mr. Jamison's guilt, not Mr. Jamison's obligation to call witnesses to establish his innocence."

But the court decided not to review either point made by Jamison's attorney, because the defense didn't object strenuously during the trial.

Braudes also wrote that police-recorded telephone conversations between the girl and Jamison were inadmissible, because she was not of age to consent to wiretapping. But the court decided that "age itself is not a prohibitory factor" and noted that the girl and her parents signed consent forms, and cooperated with police.

Finally, Braudes wrote that the court should not have accepted the opinion of Johanna Gladden, the victim's mother, regarding Tara's whereabouts the day she was murdered.

But the court said Tara's mother had a "firm foundation to render an opinion regarding her daughter's whereabouts."

Shortly before she was killed, Tara's parents became concerned that Jamison might hurt her or persuade her not to come forward on the statutory rape charges, so they kept a watch on her activities.

The first day she was left alone, July 22, 1993, was the day of her murder.

Neither attorneys for the state nor for Jamison could be reached for comment Friday.

State corrections officials said Jamison is incarcerated at the Maryland House of Corrections Annex in Jessup.

Pub Date: 11/24/96

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