Jury acquits 2 in killing of Dundalk man

Case from 1984 hinged on a single witness

September 11, 2004|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

A Baltimore County jury acquitted yesterday a former boyfriend and girlfriend charged in the long-cold murder case of a Dundalk man who was found dead outside his ransacked home near Lynch Cove almost 20 years ago.

The four men and eight women of the jury returned not-guilty verdicts on the 10 counts of murder, robbery and handgun offenses filed against David W. Marsh, 45, and Joann Knight, 46.

The panel made its decision, one juror said in an interview last night, despite believing the prosecution's principal witness - a woman who testified that she drove the couple to John Andrykis' home, where she overheard arguing followed by gunshots and Andrykis saying, "My heart, my heart."

The witness, Candice C. Marsh, former sister-in-law of David Marsh, also testified that the couple talked of the shooting as they drove from Andrykis' home the night of Oct. 6, 1984, and that she saw David Marsh toss a gun into Bear Creek.

"We struggled because we did believe Candice," said the juror, who declined to give her name because she said she was afraid of retaliation.

"There just wasn't enough evidence presented by the state. If there had been other evidence along with Candice or other evidence to point specifically to these two defendants, it would have been different," she said.

From the beginning, prosecutors were clear that their case rested with Candice Marsh. In closing arguments yesterday, Assistant State's Attorney John Cox told jurors there was no reason the woman would have testified if her story weren't true.

"What does she gain? She gains a couple hours of misery to sit up there and take the abuse she did," Cox said of the cross-examination Candice Marsh endured Thursday from defense attorneys who asked about her history of using and selling drugs, her criminal record and her nearly two decades of silence about the shooting.

But defense attorneys told the jury that the witness should not be believed and that there was no other evidence of the guilt of Knight and David Marsh.

The verdicts were announced about 8 p.m., after three days of trial and about four hours of jury deliberations.

Knight, who was charged under the name Joann Culotta rather than her married name, exhaled deeply and began to weep as the jury foreman answered "not guilty" to each of the five counts against her. David Marsh displayed little reaction to his verdicts, but soon leaned over to his former girlfriend and squeezed her hand.

"I'm just happy," Knight said in an interview. "I was praying for something good to happen and can't wait to go back home to Florida and try to start my life again."

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