The trial of Eric Tirado on charges that he murdered a Maryland State Police corporal could go to the jury for a decision as early as midday Thursday.
Howard County Circuit Judge Raymond Kane Jr. told the jurors yesterday to get ready to deliberate and to bring a change of clothes with them Thursday in case they take longer than a day to decide.
Tirado, 27, of the Bronx, N.Y., has been charged with first-degree murder in the shooting death of Cpl. Theodore D. Wolf on March 29, 1990. The state has charged that Tirado pulled the trigger after Wolf stopped him and another man, Francisco Rodriguez, also of the Bronx, as they were speeding in a stolen car on Interstate 95 in Jessup. The state is seeking the death penalty against Tirado as the shooter.
The defense has attempted to show Tirado was not the one to pull the trigger and Rodriguez was in a crazed state the night before the shooting and was threatening to kill anyone who got in his way.
The trial began June 17. The defense opened its case last week.
Yesterday, the defense indicated difficulty in producing a witness who might challenge some of the testimony of a prosecution witness who said Tirado told him about shooting the trooper.
The prosecution witness, Edgar Duvarie, a friend and former co-worker of Tirado's, testified last week that he didn't believe Tirado's story at first. But Duvarie said he realized Tirado wasn't kidding when a neighborhood pharmacist told him of news accounts saying Tirado was a suspect in the slaying.
Defense attorney Mark Van Bavel said the pharmacist had told him by telephone that he never had such a conversation with Duvarie. Van Bavel said he was trying to subpoena the pharmacist, but the court in the Bronx, N.Y., was too overwhelmed to move quickly on the request. He asked the judge to adjourn the trial for two weeks to allow time for the Bronx court to compel the pharmacist to come to Maryland to testify.
Kane told Van Bavel that would be too long a delay, but he could renew his request if the Bronx court appeared to be acting soon on the motion there for the subpoena.
A defense witness who did testify yesterday said she remembers Rodriguez getting into a rage the night before Wolf's murder. But the witness, Rosalinda Santos, said she didn't think Rodriguez had said anything that night about hating police.
Santos is the girlfriend of Roberto Rodriguez (no relation to Francisco Rodriguez), a Honduran who was charged with helping Tirado and Francisco Rodriguez steal the car.
Santos said Tirado, Francisco Rodriguez and Roberto Rodriguez picked her up at her apartment in Oxon Hill the night before the murder and visited Francisco's girlfriend about 20 minutes away. Santos said she waited in the car as the three men went inside.
When they emerged, Francisco Rodriguez was angry and was " screaming things that "made no sense," she said. "He said, 'I'm so mad right now I could kill somebody.' " Despite repeated questions to him, she never learned what he was angry about.
Looking at transcript of her interview with the police about the incident, Santos said she could remember telling them that Francisco Rodriguez had said, "If anyone or anything gets in my way, I kill the person." But she didn't recall him getting specific about whom he would kill.
Under cross-examination, Santos acknowledged she has heard other people speak that way before, saying things they don't necessarily mean in the heat of anger. But she didn't know whether Francisco Rodriguez's anger that night might have come in response to a fight with his girlfriend in the apartment.
Santos also said the men appeared to be joking earlier about stealing a car before they actually did it.