The murder trial of a man accused of hiring friends to kill his brother in Cockeysville 17 years ago began yesterday in Harford County Circuit Court, with prosecutors saying the accused killer wanted to collect on a life insurance policy and his brother's share of their inheritance.
David William Crist, 40, of Williamsport, Pa., could be given the death penalty if convicted of arranging the fatal shooting of 22-year-old Scott Charles Crist, gunned down Feb. 21, 1982, in the parking lot of his apartment complex after returning from a trip.
Yesterday, prosecutors outlined a plot they said ended in the killing after David Crist used the promise of money and marijuana to lure family friends Daniel Pepperman and Tryon E. Eiswerth to shoot his brother.
In opening statements, Assistant State's Attorney Susan Hazlett recounted for the jury of six men and six women the last night of Scott Crist's life, as he lay surrounded by his luggage, bleeding from two gunshot wounds.
" `Somebody call my brother, somebody call my brother,' " Hazlett said, quoting witnesses to the aftermath of the shooting. "Those words were among the last said by Scott Crist as he lay dying on the parking lot of his Cockeysville apartment complex. He didn't know at the time that his brother was the reason he lay there."
David Crist is awaiting sentencing for a conviction in Pennsylvania for trying to kill his 9-year-old daughter to collect insurance money. He has been jailed since his 1996 arrest in Pennsylvania for his alleged part in his brother's death. He is being held at the Harford County Detention Center pending the outcome of his trial, which was moved from Baltimore County. Pepperman, the trigger man in the younger Crist's killing, is serving life in prison. Eiswerth is serving 20 years for his participation in the killing.
Yesterday, prosecutors said the brothers shared an inheritance from their mother's estate and often clashed.
Hazlett said the younger Crist had gone to the trustee of the estate before his death with concerns about his brother's partying and his moving a girlfriend into the family home in Williamsport.
The brothers' argument over those decisions, with $300,000 and a home from their mother's estate, and a $133,000 insurance policy on Scott Crist's life, led David Crist to want his brother dead, prosecutors said.
"They resolved [their argument], but that man over there did not forget it," Hazlett said, motioning to Crist. "That man over there did not like it, and that man over there inherited an enormous amount of money."
Defense attorneys painted a different picture of David Crist who, they said, loved his brother and offered reward money for the capture of his killers.
They said Eiswerth arranged the hit to ensure that David Crist would inherit the money and continue to supply Eiswerth with marijuana and cocaine.
"There is no doubt that there is evidence that there was premeditated, cold-blooded murder," said defense attorney Arcangelo M. Tuminelli. "The question is what did Mr. Crist have to do with it?"