A Baltimore teen-ager who claimed that he acted in self-defense when he beat a severely retarded man to death with a baseball bat has been convicted of first-degree murder.
After deliberating 1 1/2 hours, the Baltimore Circuit Court jury yesterday convicted 17-year-old Lloyd Carter 3rd in the July 2 beating death of Kevin Wormly, 19, a 4-foot-10, 88-pound man with an IQ of 49.
Carter, who wiped tears from his eyes when the verdict was read, faces a maximum term of life in prison when he is sentenced by Judge Elsbeth Levy Bothe next month.
According to testimony at the trial, on July 1, Wormly had run away from his home in the 3500 block of Edmondson Ave., where he lived with a sister. Early the next morning, he approached Carter and another teen-ager near a bus stop on Liberty Heights Avenue and asked for a dollar.
Carter's companion, Eric Jones, testified that Carter told him, "I'm gonna . . . somebody up," as Wormly walked with them to the bus stop. Carter was carrying an old wooden baseball bat he kept for protection.
After Jones boarded a city bus, Carter and Wormly walked to the secluded parking lot of a Rite Aid store in the 3800 block of Liberty Heights Ave.
Carter delivered at least eight blows to Wormly's head, scattering the victim's teeth and blood over the pavement. Wormly received multiple skull fractures and several blows appeared to have been inflicted after he was down, according to medical testimony.
Police later recovered the blood-stained bat near the Rite Aid.
Jones, 17, and another witness for the state, Valerie Featherstone, testified that Carter bragged about the incident in telephone conversations later that morning.
In closing arguments, prosecutor Laura Shach said she could offer no motive for the killing. But she said Carter went after Wormly because he was "vulnerable."
"He knew exactly who he was dealing with," she said. "He was dealing with a small, frail, vulnerable, severely retarded person."
The victim's body bore no defensive wounds, indicating that Wormly probably did not resist the attack, according to the autopsy report. "The victim could get no licks in whatsoever," Shach said. "He couldn't fight back."
But Carter, of the 4400 block of White Oak Ave., took the stand Monday and said he was defending himself that summer night.
The defendant testified that Wormly, with a hand in his pocket as if concealing a weapon, demanded money.
"He told me if I ain't kick out, give him money or anything like that, that he was going to kill me," said Carter, who was in the Job Corps and cooked for a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant.
Shach called the self-defense theory "ridiculous and ludicrous." She showed jurors a picture of the victim, who was wearing a T-shirt and shorts with no pockets.
Defense lawyer Leonard Freedman said, "There's no question my client killed that young man." But Carter, who had no prior criminal record, genuinely feared for his life that night, he added.
Freedman said Carter was a special education student who dropped out of school in the ninth grade.