Graphic testimony dominates trial in woman's slaying Annapolis man charged with first-degree murder in Fla. resident's death

March 17, 1997|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

The prosecutor fighting to convict Mickeen Holland of first-degree murder in Anne Arundel Circuit Court this week warned jurors that they would hear a case with all the brutality of a cheap murder novel.

Testimony so far has shown him to be right.

Holland, 20, of Annapolis is charged in the death of Katherine E. Brodie, a 34-year-old Miami Beach, Fla., woman whose body was found in Annapolis by two boys playing in woods on Feb., 12, 1996, more than two months after she had been beaten, kicked and stabbed nine times.

In two days of testimony, jurors have seen a grisly photo of Brodie's body and numerous autopsy photos, listened to a pathologist detail the victim's knife wounds and heard testimony that Holland cut off Brodie's thumb to show to friends.

According to testimony, Holland lured Brodie into woods near the 7400 block of Edgewood Road in December 1995 with a promise to share some of his cocaine, then stabbed her when TC she became hostile and attacked him.

John H. Robinson III, Holland's lawyer and a former prosecutor, has insisted to jurors that the state has none of the forensic evidence that often links a defendant to a crime scene -- hair, fibers, blood and fingerprints.

"It will become clear, crystal clear, that the state has no physical evidence linking my client to this woman's death," Robinson told jurors in opening statements Thursday.

Assistant State's Attorney Frank Ragione has countered that the lack of evidence from the crime scene is solely because the body remained undiscovered for so long. He told jurors that Holland sealed his fate by incriminating himself in statements to relatives after the slaying.

"Mother Nature has denied Katherine Brodie the opportunity to tell you who her killer was, but fortunately Mickeen Holland himself will tell you that he did it," Ragione said.

Ragione has largely relied on the testimony of an alleged accomplice of Holland's and a former cellmate. The latter testified that Holland confessed to him while they shared a cell at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center. Both witnesses made deals for reduced sentences with prosecutors in exchange for their testimony.

"He said she came up to him wanting to buy drugs and that she started acting crazy like. After he beat her up, he said he stabbed her," said Rodney White, who was awaiting trial on an armed robbery charge when Holland allegedly confessed Dec. 31. He has made a bargain with prosecutors for an 18-month sentence in exchange for his court appearance, according to testimony.

The alleged accomplice, Tremayne Deone Howard, 19, of Annapolis, pleaded guilty Oct. 15 to second-degree murder in Brodie's slaying.

Howard admitted to jurors that he kicked Brodie before she was killed and that he watched as Holland stabbed her a few times before he turned away in disgust as the stabbing continued.

Ragione also has used earlier testimony from the defendant's friends and relatives to let jurors know about Holland's incriminating statements. That has meant a collection of hostile witnesses for the state -- two admitted cocaine users and a woman who denied on the witness stand of knowing Holland. "I've never even talked to the man," Cawana Cook, 23, of Annapolis said in court.

Ragione read to the jury Cook's grand jury testimony in which she said Holland had shown her a thumb of the victim.

Cheri Booth and Constance Alsop, aunts of Holland, took the stand to deny that they told Annapolis police detectives or ever testified before an Anne Arundel County grand jury that Holland had confessed to them about the killing.

Both women said their earlier statements incriminating Holland were made while they were high on cocaine and that police detectives had coerced them.

The case, being heard before Judge Pamela L. North, could go to the jury of nine women today.

Pub Date: 3/17/97

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