Trial begins for suspect in killing of dental student

Defense says panhandler is wrongly accused

January 18, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

The way the prosecution sees it, police found the man they believe stabbed a dental student in the spring "with old-fashioned footwork."

The way the defense sees it, police pinned the slaying on the first man they could to calm the clamor over the killing.

Jurors heard both theories yesterday as the first-degree murder trial of David Edward Terry got under way in Baltimore Circuit Court before Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr.

Terry, 39, a paranoid schizophrenic who also suffers from Parkinson's disease, is charged with killing Christian W. Ludwig, 26, on May 20.

Ludwig, who was to graduate from dental school the week he died, was stabbed in the heart when he tried to retrieve a purse stolen from a female friend who was walking to his house in Ridgely's Delight.

The prosecution said that police arrested Terry five days after the slaying when they were walking through the neighborhood looking for clues and he came up to the officers to beg for money.

He matched the description given to police by Ludwig's friends and was wearing a jacket matching the description of the suspect's clothing, Assistant State's Attorney Kevin B. Urich told jurors in opening statements.

Terry's lawyers argued that their client is innocent. Assistant public defender Charles H. Dorsey III said that Terry did not match any of the descriptions that Ludwig's friends gave police. The man the witnesses described and for whom police were searching was much taller and heavier than Terry, Dorsey said.

The police were under pressure from the media to arrest someone in the killing, he said.

"The press is all over them, and here comes my client, he's panhandling," Dorsey said.

He accused the police of fabricating details in police records and botching the investigation.

"David Terry is innocent. The evidence will show that everybody in this case knows that," Dorsey said.

In court yesterday, Terry's hands shook constantly because of his ailment. The man who once lived in a junkyard sat quietly at the defense table, turning to gaze at his mother who was sitting in the back of the courtroom.

In testimony from the prosecution's first witness, Sgt. Berry Grant, a supervisor in the police Homicide Unit, the jury later heard that the woman who was robbed identified Terry for police on the basis of his voice. Another witness told police that of all the people in a police line-up, Terry "most resembles" the killer, Grant said.

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