Jury selection begins in capital murder trial

May 03, 2007

Jury selection began yesterday in the capital murder trial of John C. Gaumer, a former University of Maryland, Baltimore County student who is accused of killing a woman he met online and then disfiguring her body in an attempt to prevent her from being identified.

Gaumer, 23, is charged with first-degree murder, rape and other offenses in the December 2005 killing of Josie P. Brown, 27, of Hampden. Prosecutors are seeking a death sentence in the case.

Gaumer, who had never been arrested before police detained him for questioning in Brown's death, told investigators that he beat and sexually assaulted the woman on the side of a highway after she changed her mind about going home with him, according to a videotaped interview with police played during an earlier court hearing. The pair were on their first date, a meeting arranged after they met on MySpace.com, an Internet site.

About five weeks after the date, which was the last night Brown was seen alive, Gaumer led investigators to a wooded area just off the exit ramp from Interstate 95 onto the Baltimore Beltway near Arbutus. There, he pointed them toward a stream, where detectives found Brown's body, police testified at the earlier hearing.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys expect jury selection to continue through the week.

The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

S. Ann Brobst, an assistant state's attorney for Baltimore County, asked the judge to withdraw two charges of first-degree sex offense from the verdict sheet that will be presented to jurors, leaving charges of first-degree murder, first-degree rape, third-degree sex offense and burglary for the jury to consider.

Jennifer McMenamin

White Marsh

2 arrested; marijuana seized

A Georgia couple were being held on $1 million bond each at the county detention center after being stopped by police on Interstate 95 near White Marsh in a speeding pickup truck that authorities said was hauling nearly 180 pounds of "manicured marijuana."

The northbound rented 2007 Dodge Dakota was clocked at 72 mph - 17 mph over the limit - and was stopped about 10 a.m. by a Maryland Transportation Authority police officer, said Cpl. Jonathan Green, a police spokesman.

While the driver and her male passenger were being questioned, a drug-sniffing dog alerted its handler to what turned out to be several bundles of high-quality marijuana in an apartment-size refrigerator and kitchen cabinet in the truck bed, Green said. The marijuana was to be sold in New York City, he said.

Arrested and held on charges including importing and possession with intent to distribute marijuana were the driver, Marsenna Louise Jenkins, 37, of Stone Mountain, and Shelvin White, 42, of Atlanta. Jenkins also was charged with speeding.

Richard Irwin


Victim identified in crash

State police have identified an Ellicott City man who was killed when his car struck a tractor-trailer on the Baltimore Beltway. Shortly before 2 a.m. Tuesday, Christopher Lampe, 38, of the 9700 block of Riverside Circle, was driving a 1995 Ford Probe south near Frederick Road in the Catonsville area when he veered off the road, struck a light pole and collided with the tractor-trailer, police said.

Lampe was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Nick Shields


Man sentenced in jewelry theft

A 27-year-old Baltimore County man was sentenced yesterday to 25 years in prison for stealing about $400,000 worth of merchandise from a Timonium jewelry store.

Corey Reuben Cooper of Gwynn Oak pleaded guilty in January to one count each of armed robbery and a handgun charge in the November 2005 theft at Bromwell Jewelers on York Road in Timonium.

Baltimore County Circuit Judge Ruth A. Jakubowski ordered that Cooper's prison term be served consecutive to a 10-year prison sentence he received in Harford County for a theft that netted about $800,000 worth of jewelry and other items from a Bel Air store.

Rodnell Shirley James, 24, of Baltimore, who posed as Cooper's fiancee while pretending to shop for engagement rings before the robbery, was also scheduled to be sentenced yesterday, but her hearing was postponed until next week, prosecutor John Cox said.

James pleaded guilty in January to one count of armed robbery.

Jennifer McMenamin


Zoning official to retire June 30

The Baltimore County's deputy zoning commissioner will retire June 30, officials said yesterday.

John V. Murphy submitted a resignation letter Tuesday to County Executive James T. Smith Jr., saying he planned to retire at the end of his four-year term, a spokeswoman for the county administration said. He was appointed by Smith in 2003.

The county executive "appreciates his service and wishes him all the best," said the spokeswoman, Ellen Kobler.

As deputy zoning commissioner, Murphy, who makes $98,000 a year, holds public hearings on development plans and decides whether they should be approved, among other duties. His previous service included a term on the County Council in the 1970s and stints on the Planning Board and Board of Appeals, Kobler said.

Josh Mitchell

Middle River

Waterfront Festival is May 12

The Third Baltimore County Community Waterfront Festival will be held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 12 at Martin's Lagoon.

The event, which highlights the county's 175 miles of waterfront, will feature a boat show, performances by local bands and school choral groups, arts and crafts and food.

Admission is free. Martin's Lagoon is off Eastern Boulevard near Martin State Airport in Middle River. Information: 410-887-3871.

Events or news items for the Baltimore County Digest may be submitted to baltco.news@baltsun.com. Information should be sent at least 10 days in advance of the event.

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