Koontz jurors ask questions as deliberations in trial continue

July 07, 2010|By Bryan P. Sears, Towson Times

The first full day of deliberations in the murder trial of Mary C. Koontz was marked by two rounds of questions from the jury — including queries about whether she had purchased a return trip to Florida, who would pay for her psychiatric care if she were sent to an institution and a timeline of voice mails she left on her husband's answering machine.

Koontz is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death June 19 last year of her estranged husband, Ronald G. Koontz, and with the attempted murder of her daughter, Kelsey Koontz, who was 16 at the time.

Police were called to the Koontzes' Glen Arm home after Kelsey called 911 to report that her mother had shot her father. Mary Koontz had moved out of the home 19 months earlier.

Koontz has pleaded not criminally responsible — essentially admitting participation in the crime but asking the jury to find that she is not responsible because of mental illness.

On Wednesday, Baltimore County Circuit Judge Thomas J. Bollinger sent the jury home about 5 p.m. after asking the forewoman if she believed a verdict could be reached in the next half-hour. When she did not respond, Bollinger asked jurors to resume deliberations at 10 a.m. today.

After more than a week of testimony, the jury began its deliberations Tuesday.

On Wednesday afternoon, jurors sent a message to Bollinger, asking for a definition of intent and for examples of "conscious and unconscious intent."

Bollinger told the jury that such language was not part of his instructions and he couldn't answer the question.

"[Intent] is not really in this case," Bollinger said. "I don't know where you're getting that from."

Bollinger went on to instruct the jury on state law regarding intent — saying that they can't know what is in the mind of the defendant, but they can draw conclusions based on statements and surrounding circumstances.

"You may also infer a person's intent from the natural consequences of their acts or omissions," Bollinger said before sending them back to deliberate.

Before lunch, the jury sent a note asking four separate questions, including whether Koontz had purchased a return airline ticket to Florida before the slaying, and who would pay for her psychiatric care if she is sent to an institution.

Bollinger told the jurors they should not concern themselves with those questions if the answers were not in their notes or part of evidence that was introduced.

"You have to decide the case on what's in evidence, and not on what you'd like to be in evidence," he told the jury.

Bollinger said questions about who would pay for psychiatric care "have nothing to do with the case, and are of no concern."

The jury also asked about a getting a timeline of voice mails, some angry and threatening, that Koontz left for both her daughter and her estranged husband. Bollinger told the jury that only one set of voice mails introduced by the prosecution had such a timeline, and he referred them to the introduced evidence.

The jury also asked about Ronald G. Koontz's education.

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