Testimony concludes in Harford murder trial


April 24, 2007|By Justin Fenton

Testimony in the murder trial of a Harford County laborer concluded yesterday, with closing arguments and jury deliberations expected today.

The defendant, Charles Eugene Burns, 35, did not take the stand during three days of testimony. He is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Elkton resident Lillian Abramowicz Phelps, who prosecutors say was killed last May by a blow to the head after being run over by Burns' car.

In addition to Phelps' killing, Burns has been charged with attacking and sexually assaulting six other women, and investigators have said they believe the deaths of Phelps and three others are linked to one suspect.

The defense said in an unsuccessful motion for acquittal yesterday that prosecutors have shown no evidence to prove Burns was responsible for the death of the 43-year-old Phelps.

"There's certainly nothing, even when looking in the most favorable light, that puts [Burns and Phelps] together or shows any intent on his part to kill her," said acting district public defender Kelly Casper.

Yesterday, prosecutors introduced as evidence a strand of hair that was recovered from the bottom of Burns' vehicle, in addition to blood from the victim. No DNA test to determine from whom the hair came has been conducted, and defense attorneys questioned the validity of introducing it as evidence.

It was found affixed to a bolt on Burns' Dodge Neon, and prosecutors say it supports their theory that Phelps was killed when the bolt punctured her skull.

Attorneys said during a motions hearing this month that blood from another victim, Jennifer Lynn Blankenship, 26, also was found on Burns' car. No one has been charged in her death.

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