Final arguments expected today in murder case

October 09, 2003|By Athima Chansanchai | Athima Chansanchai,SUN STAFF

Closing arguments are expected today in the murder trial of a man accused of stabbing to death his former mother-in-law, after Carroll County prosecutors rested their case yesterday and the defense attorney said he did not plan to call any witnesses.

The Carroll County Circuit Court jury of five women and seven men could begin deciding the fate of Leon A. Costley Jr. by this afternoon. Costley, 38, is charged with first-degree murder in the death Aug. 14, 2002, of Helga Nicholls, a Westminster woman who was known as a frequent caller to Baltimore talk-radio programs.

Yesterday, prosecutors presented as witnesses police officers, including a state police homicide detective who interviewed Costley shortly after the killing. She told jurors that Costley told her he should be taken to jail and given the death penalty.

"He told me he didn't remember what happened but that he wished it wouldn't have happened," said the homicide investigator, Cpl. Christina Becker.

Costley also said he blamed his ex-wife's parents, Robert and Helga Nicholls, for his divorce, Becker testified.

On Monday, Circuit Judge Michael M. Galloway dismissed Costley's plea of not criminally responsible by reason of insanity.

Leon and Kristina Costley married in 1995 and separated in 2000. Their divorce became final in June last year.

At the time of the killing, Leon Costley had been trying to change the court-ordered terms governing visitation of his son, police said.

Costley had been ordered to stay away from his ex-wife, court records show.

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