Motel murder trial of 2 continuing Couple accused of killing book saleswoman.


The murder trial of a man and a woman accused of slaying a Philadelphia textbook saleswoman last September was to resume today in Baltimore County Circuit Court in Towson.

After opening statements yesterday, because the state had no witnesses to call to the stand, Judge John G. Turnbull recessed the trial until today.

In his opening statement, Prosecutor Steve Bailey promised the jury of 11 women and one man that he would present evidence to prove that Rowland K. Hudson, 34, and his girlfriend, Donna Denson, 26, murdered Valerie Brown, the saleswoman, last Sept. 17 after robbing her outside her Westview motel room.

"After hearing all the facts and circumstances," said Bailey, "you will conclude that Rowland Hudson and Donna Denson are guilty" of robbery and first-degree murder.

Hudson's defense attorney, Phillip M. Sutley, countered that there would be evidence that seemed to link his client to the crime, but insisted that "it's a very weak connection."

"Our position is that Mr. Hudson had absolutely nothing to do with the murder," Sutley added.

Denson's attorney, Public Defender Thomas Saunders, declined to make an opening statement, saying he would do so at the conclusion of the state's case.

The body of Brown, 30, a college textbook saleswoman for Holt, Rinehart and Winston Inc., was found just a few feet from her room. She had been fatally shot. Her purse, money and Visa credit card were missing, Bailey told the jury.

"The bullet pierced her heart and severed her spine," Bailey said.

Brown apparently was shot sometime shortly after 10 p.m. as she returned to the motel after having dinner at a friend's house nearby.

A security guard at the Quality Inn Motel in the 5800 block of Baltimore National Pike, near Westview Mall, discovered Brown's body about 11:30 p.m.

About the same time, Bailey said, the defendants were at a party passing out packs of Newport cigarettes to people they didn't know -- cigarettes Bailey said the couple had purchased with Brown's stolen credit card.

"Donna Denson signed Valerie Brown's name over and over again as they used the credit card to buy gas and cigarettes," he said.

The spending spree came to a halt late the next day when Denson and Hudson tried to use the credit card at a Baltimore clothing store, Bailey said. Employees there, alerted that the card had been stolen, seized the card, he said.

Hudson, of the 4900 block of Queensbury Ave., and Denson, of the 5900 block of Schering Road, both in the city, were arrested in October and charged with first-degree murder, robbery and use of a handgun in the commission of a felony.

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