Jurors to begin deliberations in Howard killing-for-hire case

February 03, 2000|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

The jury responsible for deciding the fate of a 63-year-old woman accused in a murder-for-hire plot will continue deliberations today after spending more than six hours yesterday listening to closing arguments.

Emilia Raras, of Parkville, was charged in August with first-degree murder, solicitation to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the death of her daughter-in-law two years ago in Elkridge.

Authorities say Raras hired Ardale D. Tickles, 20, a co-worker at a nursing home, to kill her Sara J. Williamson Raras. Charged with first-degree murder, Tickles is being held at the Baltimore County Detention Center. His trial on the Howard County murder charges begins next month.

During lengthy and sometimes emotional closing arguments, prosecutor Mary Murphy described how Sara Raras was stabbed several times and her throat was slashed. Police found her body in the family room of her home in the 6600 block of Meadowfield Court on Nov. 15, 1998.

At the time, Sara Raras and her husband, Lorenzo, were embroiled in a bitter custody battle for their young son.

Murphy argued yesterday that the elder Raras, in a taped interview with police, said she felt slighted, angry and hurt by her daughter-in-law, who she said was having an affair with another man and did not want to take her advice on breast-feeding or other matters. Emilia Raras told police on the tape that "showing disrespect for the mother is death." When the detective interviewing her asked if that was enough to have someone killed, Emilia Raras replied: "Yes."

But Emilia Raras' lawyer, Clark F. Ahlers, said his client was forced into giving those statements by detectives who threatened to take her grandson away if she did not cooperate.

"Could there be a greater perceived threat?" Ahlers asked the jury. "Praise the Lord that we don't have a police department that beats people, but what they do instead is that they focus on something they know she loves."

Ahlers, who used pie charts to demonstrate to the jury that there is no evidence to suggest that his client's guilt, said detectives repeatedly gave Emilia Raras mixed messages about whether or not she could call a lawyer.

"What does it mean when I am told that I have the right to be silent, but at the same time I am told that I have an obligation to talk?" Ahlers said during his argument.

Ahlers attacked the credibility of almost every prosecution witness, including Tickles. Howard police charged Raras and Tickles after a jailhouse informant in whom Tickles confided told Baltimore County police that Tickles had talked about killing a woman in Howard County.

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