Opening arguments are expected to begin Tuesday in the trial of Vernon Lee Clark, the Elkridge laborer charged with shooting a well-knownlocal woman to death while she slept in her apartment.

Clark, 35,a handyman who lives in the 5700 block of Furnace Avenue, faces first-degree murder, rape and numerous sexual assault charges in the July4, 1989, death of 23-year-old Kathleen Patricia Gouldin.

Gouldin was shot once in the chest with a shotgun shortly after going to bed at her apartment, located in the 6100 block of Elkridge'sOld Washington Boulevard.

Police believe the killer shot her while standing outside her first-floor bedroom window.

Investigators also found evidence that Gouldin had been sexually assaulted.

The slaying of Gouldin, the daughter of an Elkridge volunteer firefighter and an assistant manager of Fat Tuesday's nightclub in Baltimore, prompted town residents to establish a $4,000 reward fund for information leading to an arrest.

Police arrested Clark on Jan. 26, 1990, onhis way to his job at Carroll Braun rendering plant in Elkridge, where he has been employed as an animal skinner for the past 10 years.

Investigators believe the gun used in the Gouldin slaying was the same weapon kept on hand at the rendering plant and that Clark had free access to the weapon.

Clark, who prosecutors say has been linkedto the crime through DNA evidence, has plead not guilty to the charges and has "steadfastly maintained his innocence," said Barbara Kreinar, a county public defender representing him.

A key piece of evidence against Clark is a pizza box found outside the apartment on the day of the crime; police said the box bears the name of a

woman who had been eating pizza with Clark just hours before Gouldin was killed.

The FBI tested body fluids found at the crime scene and said those fluids contain the same DNA as Clark's blood, a court affidavit said.

The probability of another member of the black population having the same DNA is approximately 1 in 300,000, the affidavit said.

Police say Clark had been seen prowling near Gouldin's apartment on at least two occasions prior to the shooting.

In two interviews with The Howard County Sun last year, Clark admitted to being a heavydrug user and to using drugs that night, but he vehemently denied killing anyone.

Clark told a reporter that he consumed significant quantities of cocaine and morphine on the night of Gouldin's death andthat he was physically incapacitated at the time of the crime.

Many of Kathleen Gouldin's six brothers and sisters will be attending the trial over the next two weeks, said Abner Gouldin, Kathleen's father.

"It's been a real rough year-and-a-half for us," Gouldin said."I'm sure we'll have three or four people there each day. We want tosee this through."

Police re-opened the files on other unsolved Elkridge murders following Clark's arrest.

Clark formerly worked for Dolly Davis, an elderly woman found stabbed to death in 1980; however, police say they found no evidence to charge him with the crime.

Clark is being held at the Howard County Detention Center on no bond.

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