Mark Gregory Medley used an 18-inch metal rod -- "cold, rolled steel," in the words of a prosecutor -- to beat his parents to death in the living room of their Severn home in June 1989.

On that point, both sides agreed yesterday as Medley's murder trial began in county Circuit Court. But defense attorney J. Michael Wachs told a jury he will present medical testimony showing Medley is a "social misfit," a schizophrenic who, while not insane, was "actively psychotic" when he killed his frail, elderly parents.

"Mark Medley is a severely disturbed 37-year-old man. What he hasdone, what he is guilty of, is manslaughter. Nothing more, nothing less," Wachs said in his opening statement to the jury.

Medley is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

The opening of the trial came one day after Medley insisted that his lawyers ask the judge hearing the case to step down because Medley believed the judge tobe an instrument of the devil. Judge Eugene M. Lerner denied that motion.

County state's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, who is prosecuting the case, told the jury yesterday that Medley planned the killing of 77-year-old Joe Caldwell Medley and 75-year-old Catherine Ann Medley. But the prosecutor offered no motive.

When it was his turn to speak, Wachs said, "I am at a loss for a motive other than the state's attorney thinks Mark Medley commited this act out of sheer hatredfor his parents."

Medley couldn't understand his parents, Wachs said, adding, "Mark Medley, in his twisted mind, perceived them as something other than loving and caring people.

"People don't brutallykill their parents unless there is something wrong with them. We'll show you what's wrong with Mark Medley," the assistant public defender told the jury.

Wachs said Medley is a "physically unattractive person who feels like a physically unattractive person. Mark Medley is a man who has never had a girlfriend in 37 years. Mark Medley is a man who has never really had any friend in 37 years. . . . He is a man who has never connected emotionally with another person. Period."

Medley has had a long-standing problem with drugs and alcohol, his lawyer said. His criminal record includes a 1984 conviction for attempted armed robbery and a 1989 conviction for possession of PCP.

Among Weathersbee's first-day witnesses was a coroner who said Catherine Medley had been hit in the face and forehead with a heavy blunt object at least 20 times. The prosecutor then produced what is believed to be the weapon, a steel rod about half an inch in diameter.

Robert Medley of Odenton described finding the bodies of his brother and sister-in-law in the living room of their home in the 1400 block of Virginia Avenue after a neighbor called to say she was concerned for the couple.

Their bodies apparently were found one day after they had been killed. Weathersbee told the jury Medley stole money from hisparents and, armed with their financial records, withdrew money fromtheir bank accounts the morning after the killing. Taking off in their car, the prosecutor said, he went to New York, planning to head toa country with no extradition treaty with the United States.

He was arrested about a week later in Florida.

The trial continues today and is expected to last the rest of the week.

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