Man acquitted in killing of dental student

Jurors can't reach felony murder verdict

January 24, 2001|By Caitlin Francke | Caitlin Francke,SUN STAFF

A mentally ill homeless man charged with killing a dental student in Baltimore may be set free after a jury acquitted him yesterday of all but one charge.

The city Circuit Court jury acquitted David Edward Terry, 39, of second-degree murder, armed robbery and carrying a concealed deadly weapon, among other charges, in the death of Christian W. Ludwig, 26. However, it could not reach a unanimous decision on the count of felony murder because one juror held out for a guilty verdict.

But Assistant Public Defender Charles H. Dorsey III said he would ask Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr. to dismiss the felony murder charge today. The charge of felony murder essentially means that a killing occurred in the commission of another crime, such as armed robbery. Because Terry was acquitted of all other charges, there is no underlying felony crime to support the charge, in Dorsey's view.

"He was found not guilty on all felonies," Dorsey said.

Prosecutors said they would review the matter.

Jurors said the evidence was inconsistent, and police arrested the wrong man.

"The murderer is still out there," said one juror, who declined to give her name.

The verdict was announced yesterday afternoon after jurors deliberated about four hours.

One of Ludwig's friends, a key witness who identified Terry as the killer, put his head in his hands and shook his head as the jurors announced the not-guilty verdicts.

Later, he went to Terry's mother, Myra Perry, who has been in court for the weeklong trial, and hugged her.

In Ridgely's Delight

Prosecutors argued that on May 20, as Ludwig and his friends were celebrating graduation from the University of Maryland dental school, Terry stole a woman's purse as she walked to Ludwig's house in Ridgely's Delight.

Ludwig ran after the woman's assailant, who stabbed him in his heart.

At trial, they presented evidence that one man identified Terry's face for police, and two other witnesses identified him by his voice.

Defense attorney's argument

But Dorsey argued that police slapped the murder charge on the first person they could find to ease community concerns over the killing.

Terry, he argued, was the perfect person to accuse -- homeless and mentally ill.

"They saw someone they could take advantage of, the most vulnerable of our society," Dorsey told jurors in closing arguments. "They tried everything to tie him to this."

Dorsey argued that Terry, a paranoid schizophrenic who also suffers from Parkinson's disease, fit none of the descriptions given by witnesses.

Witnesses described a taller, heavier man dressed in black.

Arrest after begging incident

Police arrested Terry after he came up to them begging for money in the neighborhood where Ludwig was killed.

He was wearing a blue fleece jacket and camouflage pants, Dorsey said.

Dorsey argued that police doctored charging documents and misled the grand jury to make it seem as if Terry matched witness descriptions.

Yesterday, Dorsey called for the case to be reopened.

"I want them to find out who did this," Dorsey said. "I live in Baltimore."

Sun staff writer Patricia Meisol contributed to this article.

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