Handyman convicted of murder in 3rd trial

Prosecutors are seeking life term without parole for Annapolis man


January 30, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

An Anne Arundel County jury yesterday convicted an Annapolis handyman of first-degree murder in the 1992 slaying of his friend's mother - the third time Albert Gustav Givens has been tried for the crime.

Prosecutors said they will seek a sentence of life in prison without parole, the same sentence Givens was serving after his first conviction for the killing, which a judge overturned. A second trial ended with a hung jury.

Circuit Judge Philip T. Caroom scheduled sentencing for Feb. 27.

"We are ecstatic and relieved," said Lisa Kilpatrick O'Connell of Pasadena, daughter of Marlene Kilpatrick, who was murdered in her Arnold home. "Our family has justice."

O'Connell, prosecutors' first witness, wept on the witness stand last week as she described arriving at her mother's house Jan. 3, 1992, and finding her mother beaten, stabbed and sexually assaulted.

"Each time that we have been called to testify - you get to a place where you can put those horrible memories aside for a while. Then you are forced to relive it so that the matter can be prosecuted in the manner it needs to be," O'Connell said.

Givens seemed unmoved by the verdict, though his attorneys appeared upset. They did not comment.

Prosecutors said what may have made a difference between last year's hung jury and this jury's guilty verdict was Givens' testimony last year, which caught them by surprise.

Last year, Givens, who had offered police varying accounts of his whereabouts at the time of the slaying, for the first time testified that a relative of the victim confessed to him to having committed the killing. Givens claimed that, under threat of death, he kept it secret.

"For the first time in 11 years, he told a convoluted story that we were not prepared to rebut," said Assistant State's Attorney Kathleen Rogers.

But this time, Givens did not testify. If he had, prosecutors had witnesses in the wings to rebut him.

"I just don't believe it," Ellen Hockenberry, Givens' mother, said of the verdict. She said she believed the victim was killed by a relative, not by Givens. Hockenberry said she will submit testimony on her son's behalf at his sentencing.

Kilpatrick knew Givens for years through one of her sons, and he did some work around her house. Prosecutors said his DNA was on a soda bottle police took from her kitchen table, he was seen walking near her car on the parking lot of a hardware store after she was killed, and marks from her beating matched a clean wrench in his otherwise dirty toolbox.

But defense lawyer William Davis told jurors that the prosecution's case was an "illusion." While he acknowledged that Givens "was less than honest," he argued to jurors that they could not be sure Kilpatrick's relative was not the killer.

Givens will be back in court in about two weeks for a related perjury case. Prosecutors allege that his testimony during last year's trial was at odds with what he said under oath in 1998.

Sun staff writer Jason Song contributed to this article.

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