Judge denies man bail in killing of student

Suspect denies role in Ridgelys Delight stabbing death

May 31, 2000|By Peter Hermann | Peter Hermann,SUN STAFF

A 38-year-old homeless man charged in the stabbing death of a University of Maryland dental student denied being involved yesterday as a judge ordered him held without bail until his trial.

David Edward Terry sat motionless as the brief proceeding unfolded in Wabash District Court and a clerk summarized a crime that stunned the Ridgelys Delight neighborhood near the city's professional sports stadiums.

At the end of the hearing, Terry said, "I didn't do that. I was at my aunt's house."

A few minutes earlier, it was unclear whether Terry knew that he had been charged in the death May 20 of Christian W. Ludwig, 26, who was stabbed in the heart with a kitchen knife police said had been stolen from the home where Terry most recently lived.

Referring to a theft case stemming from an incident in March, Terry asked the judge, "Is that all I'm going to be charged with? When will I be able to get to court again?"

District Judge H. Gary Bass explained that the theft case will come to trial June 15 and that Terry probably will be indicted on murder charges after his theft trial.

"Your case is a first-degree murder case," Bass said. "It is very, very serious."

Ludwig was stabbed about 3 a.m. when he tried to retrieve a purse stolen from a female friend near campus, in the 200 block of Emory St.

Police said the woman initially tried to fight back but gave up when the robber said, "Let go of the purse. I got a knife."

Several people, including Ludwig, chased the man. Ludwig caught him and was stabbed during the ensuing struggle.

The woman described the killer as wearing a blue zippered jacket with a white emblem, a red flannel shirt and dark-colored pants.

Prosecutors at the hearing said several witnesses from Emory Street have identified the suspect by face and by clothing.

Ludwig, who was born in Freiburg, Germany, and moved to Chicago with his family at age 3, was killed four days before he was to graduate from dental school.

He had a bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland, College Park.

Old-fashioned police work and luck led to the arrest. Detectives Joseph Jefferson, Blane Vucci and Kerry Councill were in the 200 block of Emory St. On Thursday , re-interviewing witnesses.

Court documents filed yesterday indicate that a man wearing a blue jacket with a white emblem and other clothes similar to witnesses' descriptions walked by them.He was detained, the documents said, and police found a blood stain on the jacket sleeve.

Court charging documents say that a kitchen knife recovered from the scene of the killing has been identified as one that Terry's former landlord said was missing from her rowhouse in the 800 block of W. Pratt St., the suspect's last address.

Neighbors said Terry moved out of the Pratt Street house a few months ago. His former landlord was not home yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

No relatives or lawyer appeared at yesterday's court hearing, and Bass advised the suspect to call the public defender's office.

In court, Terry said he worked at a downtown restaurant but could not remember its name. "I just got a job," he said, adding that he has a 10th-grade education.

According to court records, Terry has been arrested 14 times since 1991, mostly on minor theft, trespassing, aggressive panhandling and disorderly conduct charges.

He has been convicted of theft, drug and trespassing charges. The most time he has spent in jail was 35 days in 1995.

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