Attorneys complete closing arguments in Dicus murder trial

Judge expected to return verdict Friday morning

November 17, 1999|By Devon Spurgeon | Devon Spurgeon,SUN STAFF

Staring straight ahead at the judge who will decide his fate, David A. Dicus listened intently as the state's attorney described him as a calculating killer who on a warm summer night nearly four years ago strangled his wife and dumped her body in a field.

Dicus showed little emotion during the 3 1/2 hours of closing arguments yesterday in Anne Arundel County Circuit Court. With his long hair cut for the trial, Dicus briefly smiled at his 15-year-old son, Lucas, who was sitting behind him fidgeting and scribbling into a spiral notebook.

Dicus, 41, of Glen Burnie, is charged with first-degree murder in the July 1995 death of his wife, Terry Lynn Keefer. The couple met at Northeast High School in Pasadena. They began dating after graduation and had been married for 13 years at the time of her death.

Anne Arundel County Circuit Judge Ronald A. Silkworth plans to issue a ruling Friday morning.

"He watched her life drain through his fingers," said Assistant State's Attorney Frank Ragione. He ended his closing statement with an African proverb: "Human blood is very heavy, and the man who sheds it cannot run away from it."

"Do not let David Dicus get away with it," he said.

Gil Cochran, Dicus' attorney, criticized county police officers, saying they "could not find an olive in a martini."

Most of his closing argument focused on discrediting county police and the state's lead witness -- Catherine S. McNicholas, Dicus' former girlfriend.

McNicholas, 41, testified that in the early morning hours of July 29, 1995, she helped Dicus dispose of his wife's body.

Testimony attacked

McNicholas said Dicus planned to make it appear that his wife's car was disabled with a flat tire and that she had been the victim of an unknown attacker.

But, during cross-examination two weeks ago, Cochran got her to admit she had given a wrong address for herself under oath a few hours earlier and that she was taking numerous drugs, some for psychiatric disorders.

He repeatedly accused McNicholas of lying and attacked her deal of immunity with the state's attorney.

Cochran also focused on "eight sightings of Keefer by nine different people" in the days after her disappearance. Keefer's body was found by a Baltimore Gas & Electric Co. survey crew almost six weeks after she was reported missing.

A family waits

Keefer's parents -- Muriel and Donald Keefer -- stared at the floor throughout Cochran's closing. They were sitting behind the state's attorney -- across the aisle from their grandson, Lucas.

Muriel wears a gold pendant necklace with her daughter's picture embossed on it. Their daughter would have celebrated her 42nd birthday last week.

"It has been a long road since that Sunday morning" four years ago, said Donald Keefer -- referring to the morning he was told by his son-in-law that his daughter was missing.

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