Gilliam again named as killer Accomplices recant affidavits that said he didn't pull trigger

November 16, 1998|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

As the execution for condemned killer Tyrone X. Gilliam looms, his accomplices in the 1988 crime changed their stories again yesterday. This time, they said Gilliam was the man who murdered Christine J. Doerfler.

The last-minute statements from Kelvin and Delano "Tony" Drummond were secured yesterday by Baltimore County prosecutors seeking to eliminate questions about who shot the 21-year-old hardware store accountant in a robbery that netted $3. Gilliam could be executed as early as today.

"I am pleased that we're now back to the truth," said Deputy State's Attorney Sue A. Schenning, saying affidavits by the Drummond brothers that Gilliam was not the shooter were manufactured to aid Gilliam. "It is just what we expected it to be."

The prosecutors rushed yesterday to get the statements after Gilliam's attorney, Jerome H. Nickerson Jr., presented an affidavit Saturday from Kelvin Drummond, the state's key witness, recanting his testimony against Gilliam.

The brothers are serving life prison sentences.

That affidavit and one signed by Drummond's brother four years earlier presented a nettlesome question for Gov. Parris N. Glendening, who is considering Gilliam's plea for mercy. On Saturday, Glendening was faced with making a decision in a case where all three participants said Gilliam was not the shooter. The new statements will be forwarded immediately.

In other developments, the U.S. Supreme Court has directed prosecutors to have a response to Gilliam's appeal by this morning. That means the court will likely consider the case and rule today or tomorrow, Nickerson said.

Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan has stepped in on behalf of Gilliam. Farrakhan sent Glendening a letter yesterday asking that the governor grant clemency because religion has helped Gilliam see the error of his ways.

Gilliam "accepted a Teaching that civilized him," Farrakhan wrote, "and gave him the desire to reform his life."

Farrakhan added: "As it is written in the Bible, if you give one of these little ones as much as a cool glass of water it will not escape the eyes of God and He will bless you accordingly. May Allah open your heart to this plea."


As the letter was faxed to the governor's office, preparations were under way for Maryland's third execution since 1964. Witnesses have been notified that they will receive calls three hours beforehand. By law, the date and time of the execution are kept secret.

Streams of reporters have toured the 16-by-15-foot death chamber in the old hospital at the Maryland Penitentiary. The room has gray-carpeted walls and a 300-pound steel table with nine restraints -- at the shoulders, arms, legs and midsection. The three placed around the condemned prisoner's stomach look like seat belts.

On execution day, a six-man "execution team" escorts the condemned to the chamber in leg irons and places him on the table. Then three intravenous lines are inserted into the prisoner's arm. From behind a one-way mirror -- to protect their identities -- the execution team administers a deadly cocktail of drugs one by one. One induces sleep, the second stops the heart and the third stops the electrical impulses in the body.

The process takes about seven minutes.

None of Gilliam's family members will be allowed to watch. Members of the victim's family have not requested to be present. Gilliam has the right to have his attorney and spiritual adviser there. Witnesses -- many of whom will be members of the media -- watch the execution from behind a glass window.

Gilliam was convicted in 1989 of shooting Doerfler in the back of the head after a carjacking and robbery outside her sister's Perry Hall townhouse complex.

Doerfler, one of nine children born to Margaret and Robert Doerfler, was a Mercy High School graduate. Margaret Doerfler, a devout Catholic, opposes the execution, while her husband does not.

Also involved in the crime were the Drummond brothers.

Kelvin Drummond testified against Gilliam and his brother as part of a plea bargain with prosecutors. He said that Gilliam had vowed to kill a woman that night and wanted to keep a shotgun shell as a memento.

On Friday, Kelvin Drummond signed an affidavit saying he had lied in his testimony.

Yesterday, he signed another statement saying that he had told the truth at trial.

"What's contained in the affidavit that I signed on Friday the 13th 1998 is not true, period," he wrote.

Four years ago, Tony Drummond signed an affidavit saying Gilliam was not the shooter. Yesterday, Drummond said he was asked by Nickerson to sign the statement and only did so "to help Mr. Gilliam."

Nickerson had pointed the finger at Tony Drummond as being the shooter -- a charge that Drummond flatly denied yesterday.

Nickerson said the changed statements show the need to have a hearing on the matter to find out who is telling the truth.

"All this does is heighten the need for a hearing. Courts are designed to resolve credibility," Nickerson said.

Pub Date: 11/16/98

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