Jury issues death sentence for 3 killings

`Justice was served,' victims' relative says

May 28, 1999|By Dan Thanh Dang | Dan Thanh Dang,SUN STAFF

Triple ax murderer Eugene E. Winder was sentenced to death yesterday by a Baltimore County jury for the killings last year of his girlfriend and her grandparents in the small town of Fruitland in Wicomico County.

A 12-member jury took 6 1/2 hours to deliberate yesterday, deciding that they did not believe defense attorney Thomas J. Saunders' explanation that a "bipolar" mental disorder caused Winder to kill Christie Lee Mainor and her grandparents, John and Geraldine Mainor.

Winder, a 25-year-old electrician from Salisbury who admitted in court last week to the murders, showed no emotion as the jury read its verdict in Circuit Judge John F. Fader's courtroom. Relatives of the victims broke into tears as the first death sentence was announced.

"This 15-month ordeal has mentally and physically exhausted us," said a tearful Karen Mainor-Harris, Christie's mother. "A death penalty cannot bring back my mother, my father and my daughter, but it can close one chapter to our family's nightmare."

Added Alan Mainor, Christie's uncle, "I think justice was served."

Last week, Winder avoided what had been expected to be a weeklong trial by entering an Alford plea -- conceding that prosecutors had enough evidence to convict him but without pleading guilty -- against the advice of his lawyer.

In pleading for Winder's life, Saunders said that Winder had been a quiet, hard-working young man before he committed the killings after learning that Christie Mainor had been out with another man. The mental disorder, Saunders argued, caused him to do "something so out of bounds and out of character."

"Obviously, we're disappointed for his extended family, and we are disappointed that the jury did not recognize that the mental disorder he suffers from is as serious as it was," said Saunders yesterday. He filed an appeal.

Prosecutors said that on Feb. 18, 1998, Winder was seen in his red Jeep Cherokee following Christie Mainor, 20, after an "animated conversation" with her outside the school where she worked as a teacher's assistant.

Early next day, a couple driving by the Mainor home noticed smoke and flames. The burned bodies were found in the home. Autopsies showed the Mainor family died from being stabbed and bludgeoned with an ax.

Winder left the home, according to a statement of facts, but returned to set the fire with paper towels and newspapers.

Winder was taken back to the Baltimore County Detention Center. He will be transferred to the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in Baltimore in the next few days, Saunders said.

Pub Date: 5/28/99

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