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Murder-for-hire trial begins Victim was gunned down in Essex in 1981.


Carol Smith sobbed as she described the April 28, 1981, murder of Joseph E. Jackson, her boyfriend who was gunned down outside his Essex home.

She and Jackson, Smith testified yesterday in Baltimore County Circuit Court, had just returned home from an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that April night. She was making coffee when Jackson decided to get the mail.

"I heard a loud bang," Smith testified. "And he hollered, 'Carol, help. Somebody shot me.' "

Smith, whose hands shook during her brief testimony, was the state's first witness in the first-degree murder trial of Jack D. Mayhew, 40, who is accused of being the triggerman in a murder-for-hire scheme hatched by Jackson's neighbor, Robert C. Ewing.

Judge J. William Hinkel is presiding over the jury trial, which was to continue today.

Ewing, a former Baltimore police officer who often feuded with Jackson, was convicted in April of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. He is serving a 30-year prison sentence.

During her testimony, Smith said she had never heard of Jack Mayhew before. She also said she did not see any suspects in the moments right after the shooting. Jackson lived in the 2100 block of Riverview Road.

Jason League, the assistant county state's attorney prosecuting the case, said in his opening statement that police tracked down a man they couldn't find 10 years ago and that the man linked Ewing and Mayhew.

In her opening statement, Amanda Bull, Mayhew's public defender, noted that there is no physical evidence, nor any eyewitnesses, who can place her client at the scene of the crime.

"There is not a shred of tangible physical evidence," Bull said. "The only way the state offers you proof is through witnesses who have reason to lie."

League told the jury of eight women and four men that Ewing was a suspect from the beginning, but that he had an alibi. He was at a nearby bar, the Cherry Garden Lounge, when the shooting occurred.

Back in 1982, police also had a clue that Mayhew might have been involved in Jackson's slaying, League said, when Mayhew's sister gave police a statement in which she said Mayhew had admitted to her that he had killed someone.

But there was never a link then between Mayhew and Ewing, League said, until homicide detectives tracked down a man in June 1990.

League said the man, Al Sievers, told police in a June 1990 interview that he had given Mayhew's name to Ewing and that later Ewing called him to say Mayhew had killed Jackson.

"Ladies and gentlemen," League addressed the jurors while pointing at Mayhew, "there, right there, is Mr. Ewing's assassin, and with one pull of a trigger he eliminated Joseph Jackson."

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