Happenstance brought Edward Yesaitis Jr. to Baltimore’s Penn Station, booted off an Amtrak train for having too many drinks during his ride down the East Coast.
Drunk and alone in the station, Yesaitis met a woman. Authorities say the chance encounter led to a boozy, cocaine-fueled spree that ended with the Navy veteran stomped to death in a motel on Pulaski Highway.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented disparate accounts of his killing when the murder trial of the woman, Angel Fury, began Wednesday.
Fury was either a victim or a killer, they said. A woman subjected to sexual advances from Yesaitis who cowered while her boyfriend stomped the man to death, according to her defense attorney. Or she was a co-conspirator who picked up a drunken traveler to fund a few nights of partying, then helped her boyfriend commit robbery and murder, the prosecutor said.
Both lawyers agreed on the brutality of Yesaitis’ death in January 2016.
The 48-year-old’s body was discovered by cleaning crews on the motel room floor. His neck was crushed, ribs were fractured, spine was broken, lungs collapsed. Part of his lip was torn off; his tongue was severed, prosecutor Patrick Seidel told jurors.
“This is primal,” he said. “This is just pure, raw aggression. They stomp this man’s head, over and over again.”
The prosecutor stomped his foot in the Baltimore courtroom as he described the savagery.
“This man’s drunk and passed out and they beat him,” Seidel said.
Defense attorney Sharon May said Fury saw her boyfriend erupt from across the motel room.
“Christopher Wilkins, high on cocaine, was explosive. He beat, stomped, did all sorts of unimaginable things,” May told the jury. “While this was going on, Angel Fury found herself against the wall and Christopher Wilkins said to her, ‘Don’t you move.’ ”
The 33-year-old Wilkins pleaded guilty to murder in January and was sentenced to 30 years in prison. Fury, 33, has been held at Central Booking awaiting trial in Baltimore Circuit Court.
An officer escorted her into the courtroom Wednesday morning and unlocked handcuffs around her wrists and ankles. In black slacks and a black and white blouse, she smiled at a man who identified himself as her father, who was seated alone behind her.
The man said the morning was emotional. He said he could not talk about Fury or the case. Fury and Wilkins both attended Patterson High School in Southeast Baltimore. They lived together at the Deluxe Plaza Motel on Pulaski Highway, the prosecutor said, but ran out of money by January 2016.
The couple bought a one-way train ticket to North Carolina. They were headed south to live with family, but their train didn’t leave for three days. Flat broke, they decided to spend the nights sleeping at Penn Station, Seidel said.
“The Amtrak police tell them, ‘You can't stay here overnight. You got to get out,’” he said.
“So now they have a problem,” Seidel said. “The solution to their problem literally falls in their lap.”
Yesaitis had boarded his train in Connecticut bound for Charleston, S.C. By Baltimore, he was drunk and disorderly and escorted off. He was wearing shorts and a T-shirt that January evening. He tried to call his father and a friend. Later he called them back with a phone police linked to Wilkins and Fury.
“It’s just sheer, dumb luck that they run into each other,” Seidel said. “The plan was not terribly complicated: Use him and lose him.”
May said the couple wanted to help.
“Mr. Yesaitis is looking for a cheap place to stay.”
The three took a cab to the Deluxe Plaza Motel.
“Everything is fine. They’re getting along great. Mr. Yesaitis is buying liquor, buying cocaine,” May said. “They’re partying.”
Seidel said the couple plotted to live off Yesaitis for two days until their train left. He bought them food and booze and drugs, the prosecutor said. Detectives used ATM withdraws to track their spree.
“Edward Yesaitis is the one paying for it,” Seidel told the jury. “You’re going to see his bank account go from almost $800 down to $2.”
The partying took a violent turn by the morning of Jan. 5, when Wilkins and Fury were due to leave. May said Fury was pregnant and Yesaitis made sexual advances toward her.
“That sets Christopher Wilkins off,” May said. “He goes ballistic.”
Yesaitis was stomped, jumped on and kicked, police said. His skull was fractured; his hands were bruised from trying to shield himself from the blows.
Investigators said Yesaitis was drunk when he was stomped to death. They found drug packaging, bottles of alcohol and cigarette butts strewn around the motel room.
Wilkins and Fury returned to Penn Station and boarded the train for North Carolina, where they were later arrested. Police used video surveillance from Penn Station to track the couple and charge both with murder.
The prosecutor and defense attorney plan to bring forward witnesses as the trial continues.
“Angel Fury didn’t kill Edward Yesaitis,” May told the jury. “She didn’t conspire to kill him.”
Seidel finished his account of the crime with one more detail for jurors to ponder, something he couldn’t explain.
“This is probably the weirdest part of the case,” he told the jury.
Fury and Wilkins returned to Penn Station, he said, dressed in the dead man’s clothes.