A man who acted as a lookout during the robbery of a Sizzler restaurant in Cockeysville last December was convicted yesterday of murder and other charges stemming from the crime.
A Baltimore County Circuit Court jury took less than four hours to convict William Francis Tyler of felony murder and seven counts of armed robbery.
The panel of six women and six men found him not guilty of using a handgun in a crime of violence. Tyler was convicted of murder because a restaurant employee was killed during the robbery.
Mr. Tyler, 45, of the 3800 block of Belle Ave. could receive life in prison for the murder conviction. His sentencing is tentatively scheduled for September.
The victim, John Dwayne Tillman, 29, was shot through the eye at close range by one of four stocking-masked robbers who burst into the restaurant at about 8:30 p.m. Dec. 26, witnesses testified.
He was led from the kitchen, ordered to point out the restaurant manager, then shot by an impatient gunman.
After yesterday's verdict, Ruth Tillman, the victim's mother, said, "I'm just glad that this [trial] is over, and I hope I can get through the next ones."
She was referring to the three remaining defendants who have yet to stand trial. The state is seeking the death penalty against the man who allegedly pulled the trigger.
"They took my son's life," Mrs. Tillman said. "He did his time, and now they have to do theirs."
Mr. Tillman was convicted of murder when he was 15. He was on work-release and was to have been paroled in March.
Mrs. Tillman said her "heart goes out to" Tyler's family. "I understand how they feel, more than most."
She said she will raise her son's 11-year-old daughter, who was present for much of the trial but not for the verdict.
In closing arguments yesterday, prosecutors Peter W. Johnson and Jason League emphasized the terror in the restaurant during the robbery, which occurred the day after Christmas, and they pointed to the detailed confession that Tyler gave to Baltimore County homicide detectives.
Defense attorney Harold I. Glaser noted the conflicting descriptions witnesses gave of the man by the door and their inability to identify Tyler.
On Wednesday, Tyler took the witness stand and denied taking part in the robbery.
Still facing trial are: Robert Lee Berry, 26, of the 3100 block of Sequoia Ave., who is accused of shooting Mr. Tillman; Aaron Delano Evans, 21, of the 1500 block of Lochwood Road; and Wayne Alphonzo Brooks, 22, of the 3700 block of W. Coldspring Lane. Mr. Brooks and Mr. Evans are cousins.