Relatives of two murdered women tell judge of the pain of their loss

Testimony comes as court considers death penalty

December 11, 2004|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

Relatives of two murdered Glen Burnie women told an Anne Arundel Circuit Court judge yesterday that the crimes have left them devastated and praying for strength, offering their testimony as the judge weighs whether the convicted killer should live or die.

Randy J. Browning, whose mother, Laverne M. Browning, and his wife, Tamie C. Browning, were killed, said that his 8-year-old daughter is still in pain. It was on her sixth birthday that Marissa Browning learned about her mother's death.

"Every day I'm reminded, just by looking at her, how she's hurting," Browning said, as friends and family members quietly cried in the courtroom. "I give her all the love I can. ... but there's one love that she don't have."

Kenneth Ernest Abend, 34, of Glen Burnie was convicted last month of the women's murders and a sex offense against Tamie Browning.

Earlier this week, the court heard testimony from the defense. Randy Browning and his sister, Debralee, were allowed to take the stand only after Circuit Judge Pamela L. North reversed her earlier ruling that would have delayed their testimony until after the judge decides whether Abend should be executed.

The Maryland Constitution gives victims' families the right to testify about how the crime has affected them. But they cannot make a sentencing recommendation in their victim impact statements, said Jose F. Anderson, University of Baltimore law professor and former defense attorney for capital cases.

In January 2002, Anne Arundel County Police discovered the bodies of the two women in the trunk of Tamie Browning's car, which was parked in the lot of a Glen Burnie apartment complex.

Abend, who has a history of drug use, had rented a room in the home of Laverne Browning, who owned a bar in the Orchard Beach community.

Yesterday, Debralee Browning used part of her testimony to call for stricter gun control laws to reduce the number of shootings and killings.

"The gun was like a tool for [Abend's] protection, but not my mother's," she said.

In his statement, Randy Browning said his wife was "a beautiful girl with a beautiful smile and a great big heart." After her death, he took antidepressants for about two months before joining a church, where he is now a youth administrator.

Browning read a poem he had written, describing his wife and mother in heaven. "I'm just trying to get over all of this but I don't know if I will," he said.

He said he sometimes can hear his daughter crying in the shower and talking to her mother. Although the holidays don't mean much to him anymore, he celebrates for his child, he said. "The only thing I could concentrate on is my daughter," Browning said.

Earlier this week, attorneys for the defense called expert witnesses to discuss the effects of Abend's drug and steroid abuse. Abend's relatives also testified about his difficult childhood.

"We have been so close for so long," Abend's sister, Glen Burnie resident Karen Dungan, said Tuesday. "He is such a part of my family's life." She said that the two of them have prayed together for the Browning family.

The sentencing hearing is to continue Monday.

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