Jerome Page, a paroled murderer, showed no surprise yesterday when a Baltimore County jury convicted him in less than an hour of the rape, sodomy and murder of a 15-year-old Halethorpe runaway last June.
Judge Barbara Kerr Howe warned friends and relatives of the victim, Amanda Lee Hall, against making any outburst. Helen Hall, the victim's mother, who often wept or left the courtroom during the sometimes graphic testimony, said of the verdict, "No matter what they do, it's not going to bring her back."
Amanda, a Lansdowne High School student who lived in the 2000 block of Putnam Ave., was found half-naked, her battered body wrapped in a blanket, on an overgrown road June 4. The previous day, she had slept in the outdoor alcove of a restroom at the neighborhood recreation center, having run away June 1 in a dispute over a boyfriend.
Page, who already is serving 30 years for armed robbery, will be sentenced May 3. Assistant State's Attorney Scott D. Shellenberger said the state will ask that Page, 35, be sentenced to life without parole.
At the time of the robbery -- and Amanda's death -- Page was on parole for second-degree murder. He was convicted in 1978 and served 10 years of a 25-year sentence for fatally stabbing a man in the throat with a fork, Mr. Shellenberger said.
Page's identical twin brother, Tyrone, also will stand trial charged in Amanda's murder. The state is seeking the death penalty against Tyrone, who authorities say they believe is the person who strangled Amanda.
In July 1974, when the Page brothers were 19, they were convicted of battery and sentenced to three years. In that case, they helped gang rape a woman after she had been kidnapped near the Baltimore County-Howard County line, said Mr. Shellenberger. Had Jerome Page testified, his record could have been revealed to the jury.
Although there was little direct evidence linking Jerome Page to Amanda's murder, several witnesses placed Jerome and Tyrone Page at the scene the evening before Amanda's body was found. One witness testified that Tyrone went into a Royal Farms store and said he hoped to "get some" from the "hot chick" at the teen center. Another witness said she saw Jerome waiting outside the store for his brother and saw the two heading toward the center.
Homicide detectives linked a Royal Farms coffee cup and food wrapper, a needle cap and cigarette butts found outside the restroom to the brothers. But the case against Jerome Page centered on 15 of his pubic hairs recovered from the murder scene. The FBI's chief hair-and-fiber expert testified Friday that he was able to match the hairs to both twins and to distinguish between them despite their identical genetic make-up. He said Jerome Page's hairs had unique microscopic air pockets.
The defense suggested that the hairs might have been transferred from one brother to another in shared living quarters. For most of their lives, the twins shared clothes and a room in the family home in the 2100 block of Monumental Ave., Halethorpe, their mother, Isabell Page, testified yesterday.
Mr. Shellenberger argued that, even if Jerome Page didn't rape Amanda, any assistance amounted to felony murder. He told the jury the twins might have invited Amanda to sleep at their mother's house, then attacked her en route.