Williams' lawyers suggest 2 suspects Defendant's brother, other man could have killed couple, they say

May 21, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

Lawyers for Scotland E. Williams pointed yesterday at Williams' brother and a man convicted in a Baltimore murder as men who might have killed two Washington lawyers in their weekend home overlooking the Severn River.

Too many unanswered questions exist to eliminate other possible suspects in the execution-style killing of Jose Trias, 49, and Julie N. Gilbert, 48, found dead in their bed May 16, 1994, the lawyers said. They pointed to a boot print on the house siding and other items in the house that never were identified.

Lyndal Shaneyfelt, the defense's handwriting expert, told the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court jury that the handwriting on the note on the victims' door -- "on vacation!! be back 20 May" was "more consistent with the writings of Clayton Williams than of Scotland Williams."

The lawyers submitted part of a Baltimore homicide investigative file in which a witness in an unrelated murder case said he saw his cousin driving a car registered to Gilbert.

Shaneyfelt also testified that the Williams brothers share handwriting similarities.

The prosecution's handwriting expert, Gary Kanaskie of the FBI, testified last week that he was unsure who wrote the note but that with its similarities to the defendant's handwriting, he could not rule out Scotland Williams.

Clayton Williams, 32, Scotland's brother, was not a suspect, but was a witness last week. He told jurors he was mostly out of town the weekend of the killings and that when he returned, "Scotty" stopped by in a nice car and gave him $100.

The defense subpoenaed him as a witness yesterday, its first full day of testimony, but didn't call him to the stand. When he was released as a potential witness yesterday, Clayton Williams did not know defense lawyers had tried to implicate him.

Williams, 35, was convicted in 1995 of first-degree murder and related charges and sentenced to death. The Court of Appeals reversed the convictions in 1996, ruling that Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner unfairly allowed prejudicial evidence and testimony, while not allowing the defense enough leeway to challenge genetic evidence prosecutors used to place Williams at the victims' home.

State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee is seeking the death penalty again.

In the Baltimore homicide file, Gwyenthan McLaurin, a police informant, identified his cousin Antwan Harrison as the killer of another man, then said he saw Harrison -- who has since been convicted of murder in the Baltimore case -- in Gilbert's car.

Anne Arundel police said McLaurin is unreliable. He recanted his story about the Baltimore slaying and told a different version on the stand in Harrison's trial.

Pub Date: 5/21/98

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