Suspect's retrial in double slaying to be in Howard

April 03, 1997|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

Scotland Williams, who might face the death penalty in the 1994 slayings of two lawyers in their home near Annapolis, will be tried in Howard County when he is brought to trial for a second time next month.

Anne Arundel Circuit Judge Clayton Greene Jr., the administrative judge in charge of Anne Arundel and Howard counties, specified in an order signed yesterday that Judge Pamela L. North will preside at the trial at the Howard County Courthouse in Ellicott City.

Williams, 34, of Arnold was convicted of killing Jose Trias, 49, and Julie Gilbert, 48, prominent Washington lawyers who were shot in the head in May 1994 in their weekend home overlooking the Severn River near Annapolis.

But he won a new trial last year when the Court of Appeals ruled that Judge Eugene M. Lerner improperly allowed prejudicial evidence to be used against Williams and placed too many restrictions on the defense questioning of DNA evidence.

Williams' trial is tentatively scheduled to begin May 27.

Steven Jacoby, Williams' lawyer, declined to discuss the transfer.

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, who is prosecuting Williams, said such transfers are automatic when a defendant in a death penalty case asks for it.

The move is not likely to affect the verdict, but will make the trial more inconvenient, he said.

"More than anything else, it's just a logistical nightmare because you have to get all your witnesses, all the police technicians and all the evidence we have up there," Weathersbee said.

Weathersbee said that he doesn't believe a Howard County jury would decide any differently than an Anne Arundel County jury on a death sentence.

"I'm not concerned about the jury being any different than anywhere else. The jury will do its job, and we'll do our job," Weathersbee said.

The last defendant to be sentenced to death by a Howard County jury was Darris Ware, another Anne Arundel County defendant, in 1995.

Pub Date: 4/03/97

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