Jury decides on death for man who killed couple

Borchardt becomes 18th person in state on death row

May 24, 2000|By Dennis O'Brien | Dennis O'Brien,SUN STAFF

A 48-year-old heroin addict was sentenced to death yesterday for the killing of an elderly Rosedale couple on Thanksgiving Day in 1998, after they had given him cash when he came panhandling through their neighborhood.

Lawrence Michael Borchardt Sr., 48, sat stone-faced as an Anne Arundel County jury sentenced him for the stabbing deaths of Joseph Ohler, 81, and his wife, Bernice Ohler, 82.

Borchardt becomes the 18th inmate on Maryland's death row, and the 11th from Baltimore County.

He seemed almost lighthearted as he left the courtroom yesterday in leg irons and handcuffs, thanking Baltimore County Circuit Judge Barbara Kerr Howe and acknowledging the dozen spectators.

"Everybody have a good day now. You, too, Mrs. Howe, thank you," Borchardt said.

Jurors declined to comment as they left the courthouse in Annapolis, where the trial was moved because of pretrial publicity.

The sentence they imposed heartened Bernice Ohler's brother, who sat through a four-day trial and waited through 10 hours of deliberations to hear the sentence pronounced.

"I want to be sitting in front of the window in that prison when they put the needle in that guy's arm," said Clarence Pond, 81, referring to Borchardt's execution by lethal injection.

As required by law, Howe ordered a stay on Borchardt's execution yesterday, ensuring that the death sentence will not be carried out until a lengthy state and federal appeals process is completed.

Borchardt was convicted May 10 of stabbing the Ohlers, who were found by a neighbor Nov. 26, 1998, in their home in the 6500 block of Golden Ring Road.

Borchardt, of the 6700 block of Havenoak Road, and his girlfriend, Jeanne Sue Cascio, had been panhandling in the neighborhood a day before the killings, claiming Cascio needed money for a cancer operation.

The Ohlers gave $60, which Borchardt and Cascio used to buy heroin that turned out to be fake, according to testimony.

Borchardt and Cascio returned the next day to get more cash and stabbed the victims when they said they didn't have any money to give, testimony showed.

Cascio, 40, of the same address, was sentenced to life without parole by a Baltimore County jury in September on two counts of first-degree murder and armed robbery charges.

Borchardt, who had left the Ohlers a signed note pledging to pay back the $60, was arrested the day after the murders and confessed, according to testimony.

Borchardt's lawyers said they would argue on appeal that his health problems, his history of being abused as a child and testimony from defense experts about his "defective" mental state all were mitigating factors that should have meant either a life sentence or life without parole.

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