Prosecutors will seek the death penalty against Melvin Lorenzo Jones in the March 19 slaying of a Franciscan nun at her Northeast Baltimore convent.
Mr. Jones, 34, of the 1600 block of E. 32nd St., appeared without a lawyer yesterday in Baltimore Circuit Court and was handed a notice that prosecutors will seek the death penalty against him.
A plea of not guilty was entered for Mr. Jones, but Judge Paul A. Smith told him to get a lawyer or request a public defender and rescheduled formal arraignment next month on the charges of first-degree murder, rape, burglary, robbery and storehouse breaking and entering.
Judge Smith set a Sept. 21 trial date for Mr. Jones, who is being held without bail at the Baltimore City Detention Center.
City State's Attorney Stuart O. Simms said the death penalty is being sought in the case because, "The particular offense -- I should say offenses -- the means, the manner and the severity of what was done more than make it applicable."
Mr. Simms said other factors include Mr. Jones' age and his prior record.
Sister MaryAnn Glinka, O.S.F., was strangled and raped during a March 19 break-in at the motherhouse of the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore City in the 3700 block of Ellerslie Ave. She had been bound and gagged.
Mr. Jones, who lived 10 blocks from the convent, was arrested two days later.
He had worked at the convent as a painter and as an elevator installer for a private construction company, and he had been arrested after a break-in there four years ago. He had been released from a North Carolina prison in February after serving 10 years of an 18-to-20-year sentence for manslaughter.
At a District Court appearance after his arrest, Mr. Jones vigorously pronounced his innocence.
Yesterday, dressed in a white T-shirt over an undershirt and faded gray jeans, he had little to say other than that he was having trouble raising money for a lawyer.
Mr. Jones just stared at the paper in his hand -- a written notice of the state's intent to seek the death penalty if he is convicted on the murder charge.
"We filed the notice in this case feeling that the applicable factors had been met according to law and what we believe will be the strength of the evidence in the state's case," Mr. Simms said.
City prosecutors last sought the death penalty against Stephone Williams, 29, who sodomized, choked and fatally stabbed a 7-year-old boy with a screwdriver in February 1991, after befriending the victim's mother.
Williams, 29, had a previous sexual abuse conviction and was sentenced to life without parole in April 1992 in exchange for a guilty plea.