Brian Arthur Tate pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree murder in the fatal stabbing of a rival suitor in front of his home in Cape St. Claire.
Tate, 17, admitted in Anne Arundel Circuit Court that he ambushed Jerry Lee Haines in front of his house in the 1100 block of Summit Drive Feb. 24 with a knife he told a friend he had been "sharpening . . . all week long."
Tate, a former Broadneck High School quarterback, was flanked by his attorneys and three sheriff's deputies as he listened to an account of the killing that sent the victim's mother -- sitting two rows behind him -- rushing from the courtroom in tears.
Jackie Haines, the mother, later said that she hopes Tate spends the rest of his life in a prison cell.
"I'd like to see him put in an 8-by-10 room and not let out for the rest of his life," she said. "He doesn't deserve a TV or anything like that. He should just think about what he did."
Assistant State's Attorney Eugene M. Whissel II said he will seek a life term for Tate when he is sentenced by Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. Jan. 11.
According to a statement read by Mr. Whissel, Tate was seen beating and stabbing Mr. Haines, 19, by the house guest of a neighbor, who looked out her bedroom window about 10:30 p.m. when she heard the victim's screams for help.
Tate stabbed Mr. Haines 24 times, then dragged his body behind the house where he lived with his two brothers and his mother.
Tate was seen walking to the front of the house, where he looked around to see if anyone was watching before he got into his truck and drove off, according to the statement.
In the days before the killing, Tate told three friends that he had planned the assault on his victim, who was seeing his ex-girlfriend.
He said he intended to wear dark clothing, come up to him in the night, grab him as he went into his house, cut his throat and continue to beat him until he died.
Police said Mr. Haines had been dating a 16-year-old sophomore at Broadneck who previously had dated Tate. For several weeks before the murder, Tate "would scream and yell obscenities" whenever he saw them together, police said.
Police recovered the victim's wallet in Tate's private bathroom. DNA tests confirmed that Mr. Haines' blood was on Tate's jacket and brass knuckles used in the attack were recovered in Tate's home, Mr. Whissel said.
The plea was entered yesterday as part of an agreement reached among Tate's attorneys, Mr. Whissel and State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee.
As part of the plea, Mr. Weathersbee agreed to drop arson charges filed in an unrelated incident and the armed robbery charge filed against Tate because the victim's wallet was found in his house.
Mr. Weathersbee said he agreed to the plea after discussing it with the victim's family, who later said they were glad they would avoid a prolonged trial.
Defense attorneys George Lantzas and Joseph Devlin had Tate examined by a team of therapists, and prosecutors said that could have been a move toward defense arguments in a trial that Tate lacked the mental capacity to commit first-degree murder.
"The plea assures a conviction of first-degree murder," Mr. Whissel said.
"If it had gone to trial, maybe he would've faced less time [in prison]," he said.
Tate has been held in the Anne Arundel County Detention Center since his arrest the day after the slaying.
He also was charged March 13 with arson and attempted first-degree murder in a blaze that damaged an Arnold home owned by Anthony Rogalski on Nov. 8, 1991.
Prosecutors said the fire was set "to get even" with Mr. Rogalski's 17-year-old son, Jimmy, for dating one of Tate's former girlfriends.