Jerome Page denied killing Amanda Lee Hall when arrested, during his trial and even when he was sentenced last week to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the 15-year-old Landsdowne girl's murder.
But yesterday, in a last-ditch effort to save his twin brother from the gas chamber, he took the witness stand and said that he, not Tyrone Page, strangled Miss Hall last June.
The tactic worked, and now neither will get the gas chamber.
The Baltimore County judge who convicted Tyrone of the murder said he couldn't decide which twin killed Miss Hall. That means Tyrone, who state prosecutors believe actually killed Amanda, cannot be sentenced to death.
Maryland's death penalty can only be applied to the person who actually kills the victim. Because Jerome Page already had been sentenced, he could admit to the killing without facing the prospect of the death penalty.
Judge James T. Smith Jr. said he was convinced Tyrone Page, 36, aided in the murder, but was not persuaded beyond a reasonable doubt that Tyrone strangled Miss Hall. Tyrone Page will be sentenced Monday. He faces a maximum penalty of life without parole, plus two additional life sentences. The judge's verdict came hours after Jerome Page said he strangled Miss Hall.
Last week, Jerome Page, was sentenced to life without parole, plus two more life sentences for his role in the slaying. He was convicted in March of murder, rape and sodomy.
Yesterday, he said that after he and his brother took turns choking, raping and sodomizing the girl, he went over to her to make sure she was dead.
He said he didn't want to "catch another beef" over his parole for a 1978 murder. He also said he strangled her with his belt. Asked what belt he used, he said, "I have it on."
Scott Shellenberger, an assistant state's attorney, ordered Jerome Page to take the belt off and demonstrate how he used it.
Jerome Page held the belt in his hands, and said he strangled her from the front. That description conflicted with the testimony Dr. Frank Peretti, an assistant medical examiner. He said Miss Hall was strangled from the back.
Tyrone Page told police he choked Miss Hall with his hands from the back during sex. But Dr. Peretti also said the strangulation was caused by some type of ligature, which could have been a cord or a belt.
Robert Lazzaro, Tyrone Page's attorney, seized on that point and said during his closing argument that only Jerome Page talked about using a belt to strangle Miss Hall.
"It seems to me the state and the police have pursued the wrong twin as the murderer in this case," Mr. Lazzaro said.
Miss Hall ran away from home last June 1 and was hiding at a community recreation center near her home the night of the murder. Her body was found nearby in a wooded area on June 4.