Evidence offered in bid to tie chemist to assault

Search turned up mercury, items linked to woman, witnesses say

September 07, 2001|By Lisa Goldberg | Lisa Goldberg,SUN STAFF

A search of Alan Bruce Chmurny's house and car six weeks after mercury was found in the air ducts of North Laurel resident Marta Bradley's station wagon turned up a laundry list of items, Howard County investigators testified yesterday, including a bottle of mercury, hair, maps showing her house and this typewritten riddle:

"Question: What's the difference between Marta Bradley and a female bass player that is going to be raped, castrated, have her face mutilated, and have all her fingers on both hands cut off?

"Answer: There is no difference."

The riddle, found in a black briefcase in Chmurny's basement, was among the items entered into evidence in Howard County Circuit Court yesterday during the second day of testimony in the Frederick chemist's trial on assault, reckless endangerment and malicious destruction charges in the alleged mercury poisoning attempt.

With no eyewitness testimony or confession to directly tie Chmurny to placement of the toxic metallic element in Bradley's Ford Taurus, prosecutor Jim Dietrich used evidence seized by police investigators to try to create a link.

In opening statements Wednesday, Dietrich called Chmurny "a man completely and wholly obsessed with Marta Bradley," his former co-worker at Oceanix Biosciences Corp. in Hanover.

Chmurny, 57, was arrested June 2, 2000, two days after a man Bradley identified as the chemist was shown on videotape getting into her car parked at her home and six weeks after the discovery of the mercury.

A search of Chmurny's car turned up a bottle of mercury - about a quarter full - latex gloves and notations containing Bradley's address, Howard police Cpl. Brook Donovan testified yesterday.

A search of his house on White Oak Drive turned up the riddle and keys to the station wagon, lead investigator Cpl. Glenn Case testified.

Also found, Case said, were documents showing an Internet search of addresses on Jeanne Court, where Bradley and her family live; a map of the North Laurel area with the notation "MBB" (Marta Bradley's middle name is Beth); a rehearsal schedule for Bradley, who plays the double bass; and papers with the words "You don't have long" and "You are dead" typed on them. Each item was entered into evidence yesterday.

During a police interview shortly after his arrest, Chmurny denied knowing anything about the mercury and said he was in his neighborhood walking his dog at 1:30 a.m. May 31, 2000, about the time a man Marta Bradley and her husband identified as Chmurny was recorded on videotape getting into their car in front of their home. A tape of the interview was played in court.

Case also testified that he tried to bluff Chmurny into confessing during the interview but that the attempt "backfired" when Chmurny offered an alibi for one of the nights someone was seen walking by the Bradley home.

Testimony is scheduled to resume this morning.

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