Student guilty in killing to let jury decide fate

May 12, 2007|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,sun reporter

A day after being convicted of murder and rape in the death of a woman he met online, former UMBC student John C. Gaumer elected yesterday to have a jury decide whether he should be sentenced to death or to life in prison.

The capital sentencing hearing is scheduled to begin Monday in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Gaumer, 23, of Waldorf, was found guilty Thursday of two counts each of first-degree murder and first-degree rape in the Dec. 30, 2005, beating death and sexual assault of Josie P. Brown, a 27-year-old Hampden woman he had met a day earlier on MySpace.com, a social networking site.

The same six women and six men of the jury that convicted Gaumer - joined by three female alternate jurors who served during the murder trial but did not participate in the jury's deliberations - will now hear testimony in the sentencing phase.

Brown was last seen by her roommates about 7 p.m. on Dec. 29, 2005, as she left for a date with a man she had met just hours earlier online. Forty days later, Gaumer led detectives to Brown's naked body in a wooded ravine, just down an embankment from the interchange at Interstate 95 and the Baltimore Beltway near Arbutus.

After initially telling detectives that he had dropped Brown off at her house after an evening of dinner and barhopping in Baltimore, Gaumer later admitted to police that he raped and beat the woman to death in the woods near the highway interchange - first with his fists and then with a piece of wood - after she changed her mind about going home with him.

A divorced mother of one, Brown had struggled with depression and substance abuse, according to court records filed in a robbery case in which she was convicted in 2000. She led an itinerant existence, often rooming with friends and current or former boyfriends, according to trial testimony.

Baltimore police detectives who investigated her disappearance could not find any records of her employment or any evidence that she had a bank account, credit card or car.

jennifer.mcmenamin @baltsun.com

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