On trial for the fifth time in the killing of his friend's mother in her Arnold home, handyman Albert Givens was convicted again yesterday of first-degree murder.
"I'm hopeful that this verdict will be the verdict that will stay with us," said Anne Arundel County State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee.
He said "there would be no reason" his office would not seek a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole -- which Givens had received twice before, for convictions that were later thrown out -- when the former Annapolis resident is sentenced Jan. 8 for the 1992 killing of Marlene Kilpatrick, 55.
During this most recent trial, which began Nov. 27, the defense unsuccessfully sought a mistrial, pointing to publicity and the fainting by a juror when shown bloody photos. Defense lawyers did not respond to requests for comment yesterday.
Prosecutors based their case on DNA evidence that tied Givens, now 52, to a Coke bottle in Kilpatrick's kitchen; a clean wrench they said left its mark in Kilpatrick's bruising, found in Givens' otherwise dirty toolbox; and Givens' changing statements, one of which blamed one of Kilpatrick's sons for the murder.
But the defense said that at least two other people were with Kilpatrick on Jan. 2, 1992, the day she was bludgeoned and stabbed to death, and that its experts could not conclude that Givens' wrench was the murder weapon.
The trial was especially contentious, as the defense alleged years of prosecutorial misconduct. Most recently, Assistant Public Defender William Davis, the lead defense lawyer, argued that prosecutors staged a mistrial in April to buy time to obtain another expert, something prosecutors vehemently denied.
Charged with first-degree murder in July 1992, Givens was convicted and in July 1993 sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. But in February 1999, a judge said defense lawyers bungled the case and overturned the conviction.
In 2003, Givens' trial ended with a hung jury. In 2004, he was again convicted and sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. That was overturned when an appellate court found that a defense expert should not have been prevented from testifying.
Givens' fourth trial, in April, ended abruptly when the first witness, the victim's daughter, for the first time offered a possible motive for the crime. She testified that Givens had made an unwelcome pass at her mother -- something she did not know firsthand. The judge declared a mistrial.