Retrial of double-murder case begins in Arundel Circuit Court

July 10, 1999|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A soured relationship led Darris Ware to kill his former fiancee and her friend in a jealous fury, an Anne Arundel County prosecutor told jurors yesterday at the start of the retrial of Ware's capital murder case.

"It is a story about rage and jealousy which finally ended in two senseless murders," said Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen E. Rogers.

Ware, 28, is charged with killing his ex-girlfriend, Betina Krista Gentry, 18, and Cynthia Allen, 22, on Dec. 30, 1993, in the Gentry home on Bastille Court in Severn. If convicted, he could face the death penalty, as he did in 1995.

The Court of Appeals threw out Ware's double-murder conviction and death sentence in 1997, chastising Anne Arundel prosecutors for withholding information that Ware's attorneys could have used to attack the credibility of a key witness, Edward L. Anderson. It is one of three cases in recent years in which judges faulted prosecutors for failing to give the defense useful information.

Rogers described a day on which Ware punched Gentry in the face, was thrown out of the Gentry home by her brother, threatened to kill him, then returned to the Gentry home when the women were alone. He shot the women around 12: 30 p.m. -- and Anderson, a convicted killer who was on the phone from prison with Allen, heard it, Rogers said.

But Assistant Public Defender John Gunning told jurors that no evidence pointed to Ware -- police found no weapon and nothing in Ware's possession to link him to the crime.

Gunning is hoping to blunt what is expected to be damaging testimony by Anderson, the only witness who could put Ware at the Gentry's home at the time of the killings. Anderson is serving a life-plus-10-year prison term for a Baltimore County killing. A photograph of Anderson and a letter to Gentry were found in her living room.

Gunning told the Anne Arundel Circuit Court jury that Anderson is looking to parlay his testimony into "a `get out of jail free' card."

"Edward Anderson is just a liar," he said.

Prosecutors said Ware bought the ammunition used in the killings at a gun store, and a worker there had identified him. But the assistant public defender said jurors would find that identification unreliable.

Gentry's mother, Nina Gentry, described how Ware, a Fort Pierce, Fla., native, and her daughter, a part-time college student, went from happiness to a strained relationship. She cried as she talked about her son's worry that day for the safety of his sister, and her horror at arriving home from work to find her daughter dead and Allen dying.

In an unusual practice designed to ensure that all jurors give full attention to the proceedings, the 14 jurors have not been told who among them will become the two alternates. Attorneys for Ware said that decision will be made before deliberations start.

Pub Date: 7/10/99

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