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Brooklyn Park victim testifies in rape trial


A story in Friday's Anne Arundel County Sun incorrectly named the judge who imposed a stiffer sentence for convicted rapist Michael D. Armstead. Circuit Judge Eugene M. Lerner imposed the sentence of four consecutive life terms on Thursday.

Two rape victims sat in Courtroom 7 in Annapolis yesterday, one quiet and composed, the other breaking frequently into sobs.

What they had in common was their belief they were raped by the same Brooklyn Park man.

The difference was that for one, a 32-year-old Glen Burnie woman, the nightmare of facing the man was over. For the other, a 35-year-old Brooklyn Park woman, facing the defendant had just begun.

The Brooklyn Park woman -- the first witness in the second rape trial of 33-year-old Michael D. Armstead -- cried frequently while telling the jury about the violent attack she suffered just after midnight on Feb. 6, 1990.

The woman, a divorced mother of twin boys, said she awoke after hearing a noise in her boys' bedroom. When she looked toward her doorway, she saw a large figure brandishing a knife.

As she told the jury of six men and six women how her attacker zTC threatened to kill her 5-year-old boys if she resisted, the woman's sobs became more intense.

"He put his knife to my throat and said, 'If you scream, I'll kill you, and I'll kill your kids,' " she said. "He took a pillow case and put it over my head. He held it so tight I thought he was going to kill me."

During the first day of the trial before Circuit Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr., Prosecutor Cynthia M. Ferris put eight witnesses on the stand. The trial is expected to conclude this afternoon.

Officer Joseph C. Larkin, the first police officer to arrive at the woman's home, testified he found a large kitchen knife from the home in the front yard, which police believe was the weapon used. Officers said the attacker broke in through a kitchen window.

Last December, Armstead was convicted of raping the Glen Burnie woman on two separate occasions. After first breaking into the woman's house in January 1989, he returned eight months later and attacked the woman again.

Although Armstead was sentenced in February to the equivalent of two life terms for those attacks, he requested that his sentence be reviewed by a panel of three county judges.

The defendant hoped for a lighter sentence, but the panel recommended doubling the sentence to four consecutive life terms. Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr., who presided over the first trial, imposed the stiffer sentence yesterday, before the second trial began.

Robert E. Morin, Armstead's lawyer, objected to the tougher sentence, saying it was "cruel and unusual punishment." He said his client would appeal the conviction.

The Glen Burnie woman came to court for the sentencing, then stayed for the second trial.

Armstead, who had worked at CXS Corp. in Curtis Bay, has maintained his innocence in the Brooklyn Park attack. County police arrested Armstead on March 1, 1991, after finding him crouched outside a Linthicum apartment complex. A small bundle containing black panty hose, gloves, a chisel, pliers and duct tape was found under a nearby bush.

Both rape victims said the attacker wore a mask, used duct tape to cover their eyes and spoke in an articulate manner.

Although the victim in the second case could not identify the attacker's face, she was able to see his skin color by looking under the tape. She was also able to describe his height and build, which matched the defendant.

The prosecution also is depending on DNA evidence to link Armstead to the crime. A match was made between semen taken from the woman's clothes and a blood sample from the defendant.

During his opening argument, Morin told the jury he would refute the reliability of DNA evidence.

Armstead faces two other cases in Anne Arundel County: a 1991 burglary and a 1991 attempted burglary that led to his arrest. He faces two additional rape trials in Howard County in September.

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