An Anne Arundel County jury took two hours yesterday to convict a Caroline County man of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of a Severn woman.
Reginald Cooper, 20, of Ridgely was convicted of killing Joan T. Maiolo, 61. Assistant State's Attorney Laura S. Kiessling, the prosecutor, said she will seek a sentence of life without parole.
Cooper was looking to kill someone when he climbed through a window in Maiolo's kitchen in the early morning of July 6, Kiessling said. Using a butcher knife he had brought with him and a knife he took from her kitchen, Cooper stabbed Maiolo 12 times, leaving her bleeding but alive, prosecutors said.
A recording of Maiolo's 911 call, during which she cried at one point, "Help me, help me, help me," opened the trial Wednesday. Jurors also saw the two knives Cooper used and photographs of the bloody crime scene.
Maiolo's five adult children, who sat through the two-day trial, greeted the verdict with relief.
"I'm very, very pleased with the verdict," said Mary Bass, 40, the eldest. "Now we just want the judge to continue with the efforts and sentence him to life in prison with no chance for parole."
Bass traveled from Mobile, Ala., and another daughter, Susanne Wells, 34, came from Huntsville, Ala., to attend the trial. Son Robert Kosisky Jr., 39, of College Park and daughters Peggy Gatley, 34, of Ferndale and Kathy Tibbs, 28, of Boonesborough also attended.
They remembered their mother yesterday as a woman dedicated to her church, St. Lawrence Roman Catholic in Jessup.
Cooper's family, including his girlfriend, who brought their infant son, did not want to talk afterward. His mother ran from the courtroom crying after the verdict was read.
Assistant public defender Rodney Warren called no witnesses and offered no evidence in Cooper's defense. He agreed that Cooper had confessed to the murder but said in his closing argument that the state had not proved that Cooper intended to kill Maiolo.
Cooper was carrying one knife for self-defense and was so drunk when he broke into Maiolo's home that he could not have formed the intent necessary to establish first-degree murder, Warren said.
"There is no intent to kill because if he wanted to, he could have made sure that she was dead," Warren said in arguing for a conviction on second-degree murder instead of first.
He said afterward he probably will appeal the verdict.
In her closing argument, Kiessling focused on the brutality of the murder -- both of the knives Cooper used broke during the attack -- and his statements to police indicating he thought about using the knives.
"What else could he have possibly meant to do when he stabbed her 12 times and slit her throat while she was on the ground," Kiessling said. "Was this willful? Of course it was."
Kosisky left the courtroom crying at one point as Kiessling graphically recounted details of the murder.
Jury foreman John Lyon said the panel grappled with whether Cooper intended to kill, but were swayed by his statements to police, among other testimony.
"He could have stopped," said Lyon, a cable television administrator with Anne Arundel County. "At some point there was intent."
Cooper is to be sentenced on May 27.
Pub Date: 4/03/98