Trial begins for woman charged in Rosedale couple's deaths

August 31, 1999|By Laura Cadiz | Laura Cadiz,SUN STAFF

A Rosedale woman went on trial yesterday as one of two accused killers in the stabbing deaths of an elderly Rosedale couple killed in November after returning to their home from a Thanksgiving meal.

Jeanne Sue Cascio, 40, of the 6700 block of Havenoak Road, faces two counts of first-degree murder stemming from the Nov. 26, 1998, deaths of Joseph Ohler, 81, and his wife Bernice Ohler, 82.

Cascio's boyfriend, Lawrence Michael Borchardt Sr., of the Havenoak Road address, also is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. He will be tried Nov. 29. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty against him.

In opening statements in what is expected to be a five-day trial, Baltimore County prosecutor S. Ann Brobst told jurors Cascio and Borchardt killed the Ohlers at their Rosedale home for drug money.

"They would score dope," Brobst said. "They would get high on heroin."

The Ohlers first encountered Cascio and Borchardt when the two suspects were begging for money in the Ohlers' neighborhood, telling people they needed it for breast cancer treatment for Cascio, the prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said the couple gave Cascio and Borchardt $60, and Borchardt wrote a note saying they would repay the money. Cascio's Social Security card was also left with the Ohlers as collateral, Brobst said.

Brobst said that Cascio and Borchardt mistakenly bought imitation drugs with the $60. On Thanksgiving, they returned to the Ohlers' home in search of more money and killed them, she said.

Police found Joseph Ohler in the backyard flower bed and Bernice Ohler a few feet from the home's alarm-system panel. Both were stabbed repeatedly.

"They were murdered at their home because they had given generously," Brobst said.

But Donald E. Zaremba, Cascio's lawyer, said in his opening statement that no evidence will prove that Cascio was inside the Ohlers' home at the time of the killings. He said Cascio's clothes did not have the Ohlers' blood on them, and that no other physical evidence placed her at the crime scene.

"The fact that Ms. Cascio was associated with Mr. Borchardt does not make her guilty," he said. "Ms. Cascio is guilty of nothing in this case."

In her opening, the prosecutor said that Cascio's Maryland Income Maintenance Card was found at the scene. But Zaremba said that Borchardt always carried Cascio's card in his wallet to show people when he was trying to persuade them to give him money.

"I think it's clear that there is at least another explanation of [the card's] presence," Zaremba said.

If convicted, Cascio faces life in prison without the possibility of parole. She also is charged with two counts of armed robbery, two counts of common-law robbery, accessory after the fact to murder and possession of heroin.

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