Metheny found guilty of killing woman Defendant spared death penalty

May 15, 1998|By Scott Higham | Scott Higham,SUN STAFF

Joseph "Tiny" Metheny was found guilty of first-degree murder yesterday for the horrific fatal stabbing of Kimberly Spicer but spared the death penalty by a Baltimore judge, who ruled that he did not rob or sexually assault the woman before he killed her.

After three weeks of gruesome testimony that sickened courtroom spectators, city Circuit Judge Clifton J. Gordy held up a photograph of Spicer, 23, before handing down his verdict, saying the case was about her and her memory.

"You have listened to testimony that no human being should ever have to endure," Gordy said, praising the victim's family for their courage and ability to sit through the terrible details of how Spicer died at the hands of a man who claims to be a serial killer.

"As the father of two daughters, I can't imagine your pain," the judge said.

Gordy then turned to Metheny, 43, a burly man with a blank stare and tattoos of teardrops streaming from the corners of his eyes.

"Stand up, Mr. Metheny," the judge said.

"Yes sir, Mr. Gordy," Metheny replied.

The judge told Metheny that he found him guilty of first-degree murder for stabbing Spicer to death 26 times after drinking with her in a Southwest Baltimore bar and taking her to a trailer where he lived on the grounds of Joe Stein and Son pallet company.

But Gordy -- hearing the case without a jury -- ruled that prosecutors failed to establish that Metheny robbed Spicer or sexually assaulted her while she was alive. A conviction of either crime would have allowed the possibility of a death sentence.

Metheny could be sentenced to life in prison without parole this afternoon. He is to go on trial in October in the killing of Cathy Ann Magaziner, 39, whose body was decapitated.

Prosecutors Emanuel Brown and Vickie Wash appeared disappointed by the ruling. It was the first death penalty case filed by State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy since she took over the office three years ago. Mark Cohen, supervisor of the homicide trial division, declined to comment last night.

Spicer's mother, who will read a victim-impact statement before Metheny is sentenced, said she also was disappointed that Metheny will avoid the death penalty.

"It's still in God's hands," Kathie Price said, outside the courtroom, surrounded by family and friends. "He'll have to face God one day."

Prosecutors argued that Metheny, who claims he has killed as many as 10 people, took Spicer to his trailer Nov. 11, 1996, and tried to sexually assault her. They said in closing arguments yesterday that when Spicer resisted, Metheny stabbed her in the face and neck.

Defense lawyers told Gordy that Spicer willingly went with Metheny, and he killed for a thrill.

Pub Date: 5/15/98

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