Woman's murder trial set to begin tomorrow

Raras accused in plot to kill daughter-in-law

January 23, 2000|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

More than a year after the brutal killing of an Elkridge woman in her home, the trial of her Baltimore County mother-in-law on murder charges is scheduled to begin tomorrow in what authorities have called a murder-for-hire scheme that arose from a sense of rejection.

Emilia D. Raras, 63, of Parkville is accused of paying a co-worker $3,000 to have her daughter-in-law killed -- a charge she denied during a tape-recorded police interrogation after her arrest in August.

"In fact, I thought he's not going to kill her," Raras told detectives. "Because he told me he is just going to stone the house. As a revenge. For me."

Raras is charged with murder, solicitation to commit murder and conspiracy to commit murder. Her trial in Howard County Circuit Court is expected to last more than a week.

During her statements to police, Raras acknowledged she knew the suspect, Ardale D. Tickles, 20. But she told police she paid him only to throw stones at the house and maybe injure her daughter-in-law, Sara J. Williamson Raras, 35.

Emilia Raras was upset, she said, because Sara Raras had declined her help during her pregnancy. Authorities also have alleged that Raras was upset that her daughter-in-law and son were involved in a bitter divorce battle and custody fight over their son, then a year old. The boy is in the custody of his father, Lorenzo Raras.

The trial of Tickles, who also faces a murder charge, is scheduled to begin next month.

Jurors will hear how police, stymied for months in their investigation, got their first break in the case from a jail informant nearly eight months after the death of Sara Raras on Nov. 14, 1998.

On June 1, an inmate at the Baltimore County jail called a Baltimore County detective and told him that a cellmate had described a homicide. Hours later, the detective put a body-wire microphone on the informant.

Tickles never named the victim or the woman who hired him. During motions hearings this month,Judge Dennis M. Sweeney ruled that prosecutors could not play that portion of the tape to jurors because Raras' attorney would not be able to cross-examine Tickles, who is expected to invoke his right against self-incrimination.

Raras' defense attorney, Clarke F. Ahlers, also might not be able to cross-examine the informant, Edison M. George, who is missing and is believed to have fled Maryland. George is wanted on robbery charges in North Carolina.

Tickles was convicted last year on unrelated attempted murder charges in Baltimore County -- the reason he was being held at the Baltimore County jail. Prosecutors have another key witness: a friend of Tickles' who says she rented the car he is accused of driving to Sara Raras' home on Meadowfield Court. That woman, Tanisha Hodge, also said that she helped Tickles destroy evidence. During her grand jury testimony, authorities learned how close they came to arresting Tickles the night of the killing.

Hodge told police and grand jurors that Tickles had called her and said someone had hired him to be an "assassin." She didn't believe him but rented a car for him Nov. 14.

A few hours after she gave Tickles the car, she testified, he knocked on her door in Baltimore.

"I answered the door, and he walked in and had blood on his shoes," Hodge testified. "He started telling me about [how] he went to a lady's house, and he said he took the `devil' out."

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