Jury convicts carpenter of first-degree murder

September 23, 1998|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County jury convicted John R. Simpson, an Essex carpenter, yesterday of first-degree murder in the death of William A. Ehinger Jr., who was run over by his own car on Eastern Boulevard in August 1997.

The jury deliberated for 13 hours before finding Simpson, 28, guilty of murder, involuntary manslaughter, carjacking and robbery.

Prosecutors have asked for the death penalty against Simpson, who is to be sentenced today by county Circuit Judge Lawrence R. Daniels.

Testimony in the case showed that Simpson and Ehinger argued before the killing over whether Simpson should drink beer in Ehinger's car.

But Simpson testified last week that he never met Ehinger and blamed his childhood friend, Shawn T. Long, for the slaying.

Simpson said that Long came to his house in the early morning of Aug. 10, looking "agitated" and asking for his help in trading Ehinger's car.

Simpson said he helped trade the car to two drug dealers, and learned later that the car's owner, Ehinger, had been slain.

Long, however, testified that he watched from the back seat as Simpson knocked Ehinger to the ground during an argument outside the car, then got behind the wheel and drove over Ehinger in a parking lot on Eastern Boulevard.

Long has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in exchange for an eight-year sentence and an agreement to testify at the trial against Simpson.

A homicide detective testified that Simpson used a racial slur against two black men and implicated them in the killing during an interview with the police after Ehinger's death.

Pub Date: 9/23/98

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