Homeless man indicted in killing of Frederick boy

January 25, 2001|By Timothy B. Wheeler | Timothy B. Wheeler,SUN STAFF

FREDERICK - A Frederick County grand jury indicted Elmer Spencer Jr. yesterday in the slaying of a 9-year-old boy whose battered, naked body was found in a baseball dugout two months ago.

Spencer was indicted on charges of first-degree murder, first-degree sexual offense, attempted sexual offense and child abduction in the death of Christopher Lee Ausherman of Frederick.

State's Attorney Scott L. Rolle, said he hasn't decided whether to seek the death penalty for Spencer, 45, a homeless man with a history of violent and sexual offenses.

The boy was apparently lured on Nov. 19 from the apartment complex where he lived with his mother and brother. Police say a surveillance camera at a nearby convenience store filmed Spencer buying Pokemon cards for the boy shortly before he was killed.

An autopsy determined that the boy had been sexually assaulted, according to the prosecutor.

If convicted of murder and either the sex offense or abduction charges, Spencer could be eligible for the death penalty.

However, state law bars the execution of mentally retarded defendants, and Spencer has been diagnosed by court-appointed psychologists in previous criminal cases as at least mildly retarded.

"A person who would be convicted of the crimes that are alleged in this case deserves the death penalty," Rolle said. "The question I have to answer is whether Maryland law allows me to seek it."

The prosecutor said Spencer scored below 70 on an IQ test at age 25, but the law specifies that execution is prohibited for defendants with an IQ below 70 by the time they are 22.

While serving a five-year sentence for assaulting a Carroll County woman, Spencer was evaluated in 1977 by a state psychologist, who rated his IQ at 56, according to a state source. Spencer was age 21 at the time.

Spencer has been held without bail in the county detention center since his arrest Nov. 20, a day after the boy disappeared.

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