Balto. man convicted of murder in slaying Youth shot en route to cookout in Arnold, testimony indicated

September 19, 1997|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Despite no eyewitness testimony or physical evidence to tie Thomas "Eddie" Blake to the shooting death of a Baltimore teen-ager, an Anne Arundel County Circuit Court jury convicted him yesterday of first-degree murder and four related charges in the slaying.

The verdict ended a soap-opera-like trial for the first of three men accused of killing Miquel Tavon "Fats" Cauthorne, 16, of the 3600 block of West Bay Ave. along Shot Town Road in Arnold.

Testimony indicated that Blake, 39, of the 1100 block of E. Patapsco Ave. in Baltimore, and Cauthorne were en route to a cookout less than a mile up the secluded road a day after they had reportedly argued.

The prosecution's star witness was Blake's nephew's ex-girlfriend. The case largely pitted her testimony -- she also is Blake's stepdaughter and had admitted to a profound dislike of him -- against the word of Blake's brother's girlfriend, who denied lying to provide an alibi.

The nephew, Jamie Lee Scott, 21, of the 700 block of Bestgate Road in Annapolis, and the brother, Kenneth Blake, 32, of the 4100 block of Hague Ave. in Baltimore, are also charged in the slaying.

Star witness Jessica Martin, 19, was jubilant about the verdict.

"I'm glad I did it," she said of her decision to come forward more than seven months after the slaying, which occurred Sept. 1, 1995. She said she feared retaliation from the Blake family and had admitted under oath that she approached police mostly because her mother and Blake were resuming their tumultuous relationship.

The victim's family hugged and kissed Martin.

"If it wasn't for her, all this wouldn't have come about," said Patricia Bethea, the victim's mother.

"I'm not sure what really happened by the side of the road," said assistant public defender Robert Waldman, expressing disappointment with the verdict.

In closing remarks to the jury of six men and six women, Waldman argued that somebody, though not his client, may have meant to teach the victim a lesson and things spun out of hand.

Jurors needed a "needle to puncture some of the hot air and

exaggeration to know what was going on" because the facts were unclear, Waldman said.

After hearing two days of conflicting and confusing testimony, jurors deliberated 4 1/2 hours before their question to the judge gave a clue to their thinking: Could they convict Blake of both first-degree murder and second-degree murder?

Told yes, they had a verdict in minutes, convicting him of both charges.

Judge Eugene M. Lerner set sentencing for Nov. 6. Blake could receive a maximum of two life sentences plus 20 years, said Assistant State's Attorney Frederick Paone.

"This guy deserves every day of a very lengthy sentence," Paone said.

Cauthorne's body was found Sept. 2, 1995, in a ditch off Shot Town Road, two days after he and Blake reportedly argued. Cauthorne, 16, had been shot six times.

Martin had testified that the Blake brothers and her ex-boyfriend were to drive Cauthorne to a family barbecue at Blake's aunt's home in Arnold, but when the car arrived, Cauthorne was not in it.

Pub Date: 9/19/97

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