A Baltimore County jury took less than five hours yesterday to convict Baltimore police Sgt. James Allan Kulbicki of first-degree murder in the shooting death of a young woman who bore him a child during an adulterous, three-year affair.
Kulbicki, apparently prepared for the worst, went back to hug his wife, Connie, their 9-year-old son, Allan, and his 18-year-old stepson, Darryl Marciszewski, as the crowded courtroom awaited the jury.
The 37-year-old sergeant stood stoically as the verdict was delivered, but his wife, and the mother and sister of the victim, 22-year-old Gina Marie Nueslein, began to sob.
Judge John Grason Turnbull II, who had called extra sheriff's deputies into the courtroom, immediately revoked Kulbicki's bail but said he would ask the Baltimore County Detention Center "to keep special watch on him" because he is a police officer and might be harmed by inmates.
Defense attorney Henry L. Belsky said there "most likely will be an appeal" of the conviction.
The jury of eleven women and one man began its deliberations at 12:30 p.m. and reached a verdict just before 5. It also convicted Kulbicki of using a handgun in the crime.
Prosecutors will ask for life without parole at Kulbicki's Jan. 26 sentencing, Deputy State's Attorney Sue A. Schenning said.
"The jury's verdict finally brings some closure to this family and the tragedy they've suffered through," Ms. Schenning said.
Ms. Nueslein's father, Joseph C. Nueslein, said, "I'm just happy. It's been a long nine months, and I'm extremely happy."
Ms. Nueslein disappeared sometime after 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 9, when she left her home in the 3300 block of Ramona Ave. in the city for the half-mile walk to her job at a nearby Royal Farm store.
A park employee found Ms. Nueslein's body the next morning behind a trash can near the archery building in Gunpowder State Park in Baltimore County, at the end of Grace's Quarter Road. She had been shot in the head at point-blank range.
Baltimore County homicide detectives focused on Kulbicki almost immediately. He had a relationship with Ms. Nueslein for three years, was seen at her home and workplace the night before she died, and was facing a hearing in the city on Jan. 13 to establish child support for their son, Michael Nueslein, now 2.
During the trial, Kulbicki admitted fathering the child but denied killing Ms. Nueslein. Ms. Nueslein also had begun seeing a younger, single police officer, and prosecutors said the sergeant was jealous.
Police recovered blood, bone and bullet fragments from Kulbicki's 1988 Ford pickup truck that were linked to Ms. Nueslein, and a stain on his jacket was positively identified in court as Ms. Nueslein's blood.
In closing arguments yesterday morning, Assistant State's Attorney Louis C. Carrico said, "Eyewitnesses put the defendant in that truck -- and science puts the murder in the truck."
The witness was a supervisor at Martin Marietta Corp. who positively placed Kulbicki and his truck at the archery building parking lot at sunset -- about 5 p.m. -- on Jan. 9.
After the verdict, Ms. Schenning said prosecutors did not seek the death penalty because there was no aggravating circumstance to justify it legally.
"We know she was afraid," Ms. Schenning said of the victim, "but we don't know whether he coaxed her [into the truck or abducted her at gunpoint] so there's not enough to support a kidnapping charge."
In his closing argument, Mr. Belsky said, "A sergeant in the Baltimore City Police Department is not going to commit murder," and out lined a list of errands Kulbicki ran between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. on Jan. 9. During the trial, the defense produced several alibi witnesses for that afternoon but could not prove to the jury that it was impossible for Kulbicki to have killed Ms. Nueslein.