Death penalty to be sought in slayings of 2

March 21, 1997|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

Baltimore State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy announced yesterday that she is seeking the death penalty against Joseph Ray Metheny in the killings of two women -- the first time the prosecutor has sought the ultimate punishment since taking office two years ago.

Metheny, 42, has claimed that he has killed up to 10 people, including two homeless men he was acquitted of bludgeoning to death last year.

Metheny is charged with first-degree murder and robbery in the killings of Kimberly Lynn Spicer, 23, and Cathy Ann Magaziner, ++ 39. Police say he confessed to both killings, but Metheny pleaded not guilty to the charges yesterday. He is scheduled to stand trial July 8 in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Assistant State's Attorney Ilene Nathan dropped a third murder case against Metheny yesterday, saying she would not prosecute him in the killing of Toni Lynn Ingrassia, 28.

Spicer's body was found Dec. 15 under a trailer at Joe Stein & Sons in the 3200 block of James St., where Metheny, a large man nicknamed "Tiny," lived and worked. Spicer had been stabbed to death.

Magaziner's decapitated remains were found three days later when Metheny led police to a shallow grave on the same property.

In contrast to Baltimore County, where State's Attorney Sandra A. O'Connor seeks the death penalty in every eligible case, city prosecutors have been cautious about seeking capital punishment. It was last sought in the city by former State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms against Melvin Jones for the March 1993 murder of Sister MaryAnn Glinka. He was sentenced to life without parole.

Kathie Price, Spicer's mother, said she had asked prosecutors to seek the death penalty. "I think that for so long, people have been getting away with murder because they think there's not going to be harsh punishment for it," she said.

Margaret Mead, Metheny's attorney, said prosecutors offered to recommend a sentence of life without parole in exchange for a guilty plea in the Spicer and Magaziner slayings, which she said "was not a reasonable plea."

Mead said she intended to argue to the jury that there were mitigating factors in Metheny's history that should keep him from being executed if he is convicted. "We're talking about significant alcohol and drug history," she said. "We're talking about the relationship between Mr. Metheny and these women and the context of the relationship."

Ingrassia's father, John Ingrassia, said he was informed yesterday that prosecutors would drop the case involving his daughter's death because of insufficient evidence.

Pub Date: 3/21/97

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