Man accused of killing ex-wife he met, married in prison goes on trial in Baltimore Co. today

January 12, 1998|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

On the day David L. Holland was arrested in the killing of his ex-wife almost a year ago, he told police, "I care for my ex-wife very much. People say my wife is afraid of me. That's a lie. I am not a murderer."

Today, Holland, 40, goes on trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court, accused of killing Francesca A. Holland -- a woman he met in prison when she was working as a volunteer to help prisoners and he was serving time for rape and robbery.

Francesca Holland, 58, was deputy director of Meals on Wheels of Central Maryland at the time of her death. Her body was found in the trunk of her car parked outside her ex-husband's Essex apartment Feb. 5.

In addition to first-degree murder, he is charged with robbery for allegedly stealing his ex-wife's videocassette recorder, portable stereo, vacuum cleaner and Honda Civic. His trial, to be presided over by Circuit Judge John G. Turnbull II, is expected to last at least a week.

The day police went to David Holland's home seeking information about his ex-wife's disappearance, they found the Pikesville woman's car parked about 120 feet from his home.

When he failed to answer the door, police were let in by an apartment manager with a passkey. Holland told police that he had not seen his ex-wife and was unsure what kind of car she drove.

At the time, county police wrote, "David Holland was without emotion during our entire interview. He stated that he loved her and cared for her."

Police also quoted Holland as saying, "Why would I want to harm her? She was going to give me money."

He told police that his ex-wife had intended to give him the $1,000 she expected from a tax refund.

The couple met while David Holland was in prison for raping and robbing a Maryland Institute, College of Art student.

Francesca Bird had led a suburban, middle-class life in Columbia before she met her future husband while working with prisoners.

They married in 1986 while David Holland was still in the House of Correction. After her new husband introduced her to the teachings of Islam, Francesca became a devout Sunni Muslim and grew active in a Muslim congregation in West Baltimore.

After serving 19 years in prison, David Holland was released in 1993. But the marriage didn't last long after he was released. In December 1994, the couple separated and later divorced.

During the police interview at the time of the killing, David Holland showed emotion for the first time when a detective accused him of being a "kept man," noting that his ex-wife had continued to give him money after their divorce.

According to a police report at the time, Holland loudly denied he was a kept man, then laughed and told police of the pending murder charge: "I'm going to roll the dice and put my faith in God. We will wait and see."

Pub Date: 1/12/98

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