In his third trial, man is found guilty of murder

Charles Village woman was killed by neighbor in 1991 after year of conflict

April 27, 2006|By BRENT JONES | BRENT JONES,SUN REPORTER

A man twice convicted of killing a woman in Charles Village 15 years ago -- only to have both verdicts overturned on appeal -- was again found guilty of first-degree murder yesterday by a jury in Baltimore Circuit Court.

Jurors deliberated a few hours before convicting Mohammad Biglari of killing Barbara Halsey in her apartment in the 2800 block of N. Calvert St. in March 1991. Sentencing is set for June 15.

Biglari and Halsey lived in the apartment building, and prosecutors said Biglari used electric tape and cable ties to bind her before shooting her three times and repeatedly stabbing her.

Experts testified that the same type of tape and cable ties found at the crime scene match those found in Biglari's apartment. The landlord of the building testified that Biglari and Halsey were the only tenants in the building.

Defense attorneys acknowledged that Biglari and Halsey did not like each other but argued that there was no physical evidence placing the Biglari at the crime scene. There also were no signs of forced entry into the building or a signs robbery.

Biglari left his apartment two days after the killings and never returned, leaving behind a wife and two children. He was sought by the FBI and arrested 11 months later as he walked out of the Central Presbyterian Church -- behavior that prosecutors say helped prove his guilt.

The neighbors' disdain stretched back into the year before Halsey's death.

Halsey filed a police report against Biglari accusing him of harassment, prosecutors said. Biglari responded by filing a report against Halsey two days later, alleging the same offense.

Biglari was convicted and sentenced to probation without judgment in December 1990. Prosecutors dropped his complaint against Halsey.

"He was found guilty of harassing Barbara," Assistant State's Attorney Twila C. Driggins said during closing arguments yesterday. "Ms. Halsey testified that he said, `You will not live here anymore.'"

Biglari was given a life sentence in 1994 after being convicted the first time in Halsey's death, but he was granted a new trial by the Maryland Court of Special Appeals because of evidentiary issues raised a year later.

The retrial was delayed until 2002 after Biglari was declared mentally incompetent. Biglari was convicted again, but that was overturned in 2004 when the Court of Special Appeals found he was not offered a chance to sit in on closing arguments after he had fired his lawyer and was removed from the courtroom for misbehaving.

In court yesterday, Biglari made a rambling 15-minute speech in which he demanded his wife testify on his behalf and asked for a new lawyer. Baltimore Circuit Judge Kaye A. Allison told Biglari that he would be responsible for making a closing argument if he dismissed his lawyer, and Biglari replied, "I cannot defend myself."

Allison then denied Biglari's request.

brent.jones@baltsun.com

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