At a critical moment in the police interrogation of Dontay Carter, homicide Detective Donald Steinhice rose from his chair to hit the teen-age suspect in a tender spot -- his ego.
Convinced that Carter was lying when he initially tried to pass the blame for Vitalis V. Pilius' death to a youth known as "Tom Boh," the detective said: "In other words, you ain't s," according to testimony yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court.
"At that point, he comes around and said, 'I done things,' " Detective Steinhice testified.
The confrontation that helped produce Carter's confession came under close scrutiny yesterday in the 10th day of the 19-year-old East Baltimore man's murder trial. The detective stood up from the witness stand and, using a table as a prop, re-enacted the moment. At one point, defense attorney John S. Deros sarcastically referred to the detective's work as "miraculous."
"I'm not comfortable with that word," the 29-year veteran of the city police force replied, prompting laughter in the courtroom.
Carter, when given a chance by police to tell what he knew of the Pilius slaying, initially denied any involvement, testimony showed. He said he was at the Harbor Park Cinema downtown with "Tom Boh," or Clarence Woodward, but that his friend "disappeared." Carter said he later saw Tom Boh in a station wagon; Mr. Pilius' company car was a station wagon.
Detective Steinhice told the jury he came into the Feb. 14 interview armed with knowledge that Carter had been buying clothes for his friends and otherwise "trying to build up his image."
"I felt the gentleman was the main cog in the wheel, so to speak, so I thought if I put him down something would happen," the detective testified. "If I shot down his image he'd either come around or ask for a lawyer.