Death sentence upheld for slaying in Balto. Co. Supreme Court lets Gilliam's penalty stand.


WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Supreme Court today upheld the conviction and sentence of Maryland death row inmate Tyrone Gilliam, convicted of the 1988 shotgun murder of Christine Doerfler.

Doerfler, 21, was murdered during a $3 robbery because she saw the killer's face.

The court let stand rulings that Gilliam received a fair trial and a proper sentence.

Prosecutors said Doerfler, of Baltimore, was abducted Dec. 2, 1988, by Gilliam and two accomplices, Tony and Kelvin Drummond, at the end of a weekend crime spree. She was accosted in a parking lot outside her sister's home in Perry Hall.

They forced her to drive to a secluded road on Gum Spring Road near Rossville, where she was robbed and killed.

Kelvin Drummond testified that as he and his brother sat in their car waiting for Gilliam to join them, Gilliam put a shotgun to Doerfler's head and killed her.

Drummond said Gilliam admitted he had killed the woman because she saw his face.

Gilliam was convicted in Baltimore County Circuit Court in June 1989 and sentenced to death.

The Maryland Court of Appeals last year upheld the death penalty.

Gilliam argued on appeal to the state court that the trial judge should not have admitted his confession into evidence, and he did not fully understand his rights during questioning because of a head injury received during a car chase with police and drugs he had taken the previous weekend.

The state court noted that he initialed statements waiving his rights during the questioning. The court also found the death penalty was not excessive nor disproportionate compared with similar cases.

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