Bank records say $2,500 withdrawn after killing

Raras prosecutors seek to link cash, 2nd defendant

defense attacks contention

February 01, 2000|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County woman accused of hiring a hit man to kill her daughter-in-law withdrew $2,500 in cash from her checking account a few days after the slaying, according to banking records disclosed during her trial yesterday.

Howard County prosecutors then tried to link the withdrawal to the man accused of killing the 35-year-old Elkridge mother, contending the cash was deposited into his bank account within weeks of the killing on Nov. 14, 1998.

The defense attorney for Emilia D. Raras, 63, of Parkville attacked the alleged connection, and an investigator with the state's attorneys office acknowledged that he could not say whether Raras gave cash to Ardale D. Tickles, the man accused in the killing of Sara J. Williamson Raras of Meadowfield Court.

Three deposits made

Tickles, 20, deposited $450 into his account on Nov. 24; $800 on Dec. 11; and $105 on Dec. 16.

Tickles' trial on murder charges is scheduled next month.

Clarke F. Ahlers, one of Raras' defense attorneys, asked investigator Francis W. Curran whether he knew the significance of Nov. 24 for Tickles.

When Curran said he did not know, Ahlers answered: "It was his birthday. Is it unusual for young people to get cash on their birthdays?"

Prosecutors allege that Raras paid Tickles $3,000 to kill her daughter-in-law. Emilia Raras' son, Lorenzo, and Sara Raras were involved in a bitter divorce and custody fight over their son, then 1.

Prosecutors contend that Emilia Raras was upset with Sara Raras for a number of reasons.

In a tape-recorded statement, Raras said she was angry with Sara Raras over perceived mistreatment.

At first, police focused their investigation on Lorenzo Raras, officers testified. But in June, a Baltimore County jail-house informant told police that a cellmate, Tickles, had described a killing in Howard County.

Baltimore County police put a tape recorder on the informant, who spoke to Tickles, and that conversation led to the eventual arrest of Raras on murder-for-hire charges. She faces life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors have built a circumstantial case against Raras, including her tape-recorded statements to Howard County investigators.

Ahlers spent much of yesterday attacking Howard police tactics used during that interrogation. He questioned why Raras was denied access to a lawyer despite asking for one several times.

Detectives said they told Raras that she would be able to get an attorney in "a little while."

They also stopped the interrogation when she asked for a lawyer and took her into a cellblock area in the police station to book her. But Raras began telling them that she wanted to clarify something.

About an hour later, police restarted the interrogation after again telling Raras of her Miranda rights.

A look at police procedure

The testimony of Cpl. Ellsworth Jones offered a rare window into police procedure during interrogations.

Jones said police would rather get a false statement from a suspect than nothing at all. He also said he tried to get Raras to waive her right to remain silent so he could question her without an attorney.

On the tape, Raras acknowledged hiring Tickles, but she said she never intended to have her daughter-in-law killed. Instead, she said, she wanted Tickles only to throw stones at the house.

A close friend of Tickles testified Thursday that Tickles told her one of his co-workers had paid him $2,000 to $3,000 to kill a woman in Howard County.

Raras and Tickles worked at the same Baltimore County nursing home. The friend, Tanisha Hodge, 26, was offered immunity for her testimony.

Today, several former co-workers at a Baltimore County nursing home are expected to testify about Emilia Raras' relationship with Tickles. The trial is scheduled to end tomorrow.

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