Prosecutors replay tape for Metheny jurors Case 'exaggerated,' defense says

jury deliberations begin

November 15, 1997|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Wrapping up their case yesterday against suspected serial killer Joseph R. Metheny, on trial facing charges of attempted murder and attempted rape, prosecutors replayed an audio recording in which the suspect indicates he intended to kill the Baltimore woman.

"Did you have any intention to kill her?" an investigator asks Metheny on the tape, which was played for jurors during closing arguments in Baltimore Circuit Court.

"Yeah," Metheny responds. Then he says: "I don't know really what I was going to do because she got away."

In response to the tape and the allegations, Margaret A. Mead, Metheny's lawyer, said in her closing that "the state has exaggerated this case to the point of absurdity. He never mistreated her."

The tape -- part of a statement that Metheny gave to Baltimore homicide investigators -- is a key part of the prosecution's case and likely will be weighed heavily as the jury continues its deliberations, which began yesterday.

After deliberating for about three hours, the jury decided to reconvene Monday for a verdict.

The weeklong trial is a prelude to a murder trial scheduled for Dec. 2 in which Metheny is charged with killing two women who were found buried near his trailer in the 3200 block of James St. in Southwest Baltimore. The state is seeking the death penalty in that case.

Police say Metheny, who did not take the witness stand, told them he killed as many as 10 people.

In the current case before Judge John N. Prevas in Baltimore Circuit Court, Metheny is charged with assaulting, kidnapping and attempting to rape and to murder 37-year-old Rita Kemper early Dec. 8.

"When she began to pray," Emmanuel Brown, an assistant state's attorney, said in his closing arguments, "the defendant said 'even God can't help you.' "

Referring to testimony about alleged statements by Metheny that he wanted to sodomize Kemper and had planned to kill her and "bury her in the woods," Brown said it was apparent that the defendant intended to harm the woman. "He had communicated exactly what he was going to do to Ms. Kemper," Brown said.

But Metheny's lawyer countered, saying that Kemper, who sat in the courtroom during the closing arguments, had fabricated the whole story.

"We know she's convicted of theft," Mead said. "This woman is a known drug user. She lies. She steals. Should we be here on these incredible charges? No."

Pub Date: 11/15/97

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