Metheny acquitted of attempted murder But he's convicted hTC of kidnapping, assault

November 18, 1997|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,SUN STAFF

Joseph R. Metheny was found not guilty yesterday of attempting to murder a Southwest Baltimore woman, a key decision in favor of a man accused of killing two women and suspected of as many as eight other slayings.

The jury did find Metheny guilty of assault, kidnapping and a sex offense for an incident early Dec. 8 at his home in the 3200 block of James St. near Washington Boulevard in Southwest Baltimore. The victim said during the trial that she was there to share drugs, but Metheny kept her against her will, demanded sex and threatened to sodomize her.

Metheny could be sentenced to a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison for the assault, kidnapping and sex offense charges. But Metheny is likely to see only a fraction of that when he is sentenced Jan. 8, lawyers in the case said.

Prosecutors were looking for a guilty verdict on the attempted murder charge to bolster the case in Metheny's murder trial. The state is seeking the death penalty on those charges.

Prosecutors "tried to link them all together," said Catherine Flynn, one of Metheny's lawyers. "The jury luckily did not take the bait."

Added Margaret Mead, another of Metheny's lawyers: The jury's decision is "a clear indication that the state had exaggerated the charges against Mr. Metheny. We're very happy."

Emanuel Brown, one of the assistant state's attorneys prosecuting the case, said he respects the jury's decision not to convict Metheny on the attempted murder charge, but he said the only thing that saved Rita Kemper was that she was able to get away from the man.

"We did not exaggerate the charges," Brown said. "If she had not escaped, she would have been dead."

Jurors, who said they did not know that Metheny was suspected of killing two women, said they believed that there was more to the case than what they heard during the trial. But based on the evidence that was presented, they said the state did not prove that he was going to kill Kemper.

Some jurors said they had trouble being sympathetic to Kemper because she admitted during the trial that she was sharing drugs with Metheny. In addition, they said she was able to get away from Metheny, which some believed would not have been possible if he were so determined to kill her.

"I didn't feel the man was guilty," said juror Lewis Dawkins. "The man is not going to let you jump out the window."

Metheny awaits trial on charges he killed Kimberly Spicer, 23, and Cathy A. Magaziner, 39. He is scheduled to go on trial Dec. 2 for those charges.

Detectives have described the crimes as brutal sexual assaults that seem to suggest a psychotic aggression toward a certain type of woman.

Police say Metheny told them that he killed as many as 10 people. He has never been convicted of any killings.

The victim in the Dec. 8 incident said after the jury's verdict yesterday that she was going to take advantage of her second chance at life. She says she has stayed away from drugs and is working to turn her life around.

"I feel that it's the grace of God," Kemper said.

Pub Date: 11/18/97

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