Sister MaryAnn Glinka's duties at the Franciscan nun's convent in Baltimore included monitoring the motherhouse's security system. Early on March 19, hearing the alarm triggered once again by the damaged door to the convent's library, she called the security agency to report a false alarm.
Minutes later, on her way to check on the door, she was strangled and raped.
Prosecutors gave that account of the final moments of the 50-year-old nun's life yesterday during the first day of the trial of her accused killer, Melvin L. Jones, who is charged with first-degree murder. They played a tape, largely inaudible in the courtroom, of the nun's brief conversation with an attendant at Trust Security.
Prosecutor Timothy J. Doory told a Baltimore Circuit Court jury that Mr. Jones, 34, who faces the death penalty if convicted, will be linked to the crime by a matchbook, a fingerprint and a wristwatch.
"Ladies and gentlemen, murder most foul brings us together," Mr. Doory told the jurors. "I promise you, ladies and gentlemen, we shall know the killer by the mistakes he made."
Mr. Jones' mistakes, according to the prosecutor, included leaving at the scene both a matchbook with his girlfriend's phone number and his fingerprint on the cellophane enclosing the unopened box of Russell Stover candy. Also, Mr. Jones had Sister MaryAnn's wristwatch in a pants pocket when he was arrested two days after the killing, Mr. Doory said.
Defense attorney Phillip M. Sutley said to the jurors, "I know you're saying, 'What was he doing there?' " He said the evidence was subject to varying interpretations and he said the state would be unable to prove his client guilty.
Mr. Doory said Mr. Jones, who more than four years earlier had worked as a painter at the convent in the 3700 block of Ellerslie Ave., began by ransacking a sewing room in a small building near the sprawling convent. He said Mr. Jones made his way through the dark by striking matches -- matches from the book with the phone number.
The prosecutor said Mr. Jones then entered the convent through the library door, triggering the alarm, and was ransacking a cloakroom when Sister MaryAnn passed by.
With a dozen of Sister MaryAnn's colleagues watching from the spectators gallery, homicide Detective Daniel Boone produced the red robe and white nightgown the nun was wearing when she was killed, along with the belt and scarves used to bind her. Detective Boone also showed the jury a change purse that had been stuffed into Sister MaryAnn's mouth. Mr. Doory said the nun had been sexually assaulted.
Mr. Jones, of the 1600 block of E. 32nd St., is also charged with first-degree rape, burglary and robbery.
The first witness in the trial, which is expected to continue into next week, was Sister Theresa Galbraith. Sister Theresa, who has been with the Franciscan order for 50 years, described finding the body at 5:30 a.m. that day. "I saw a foot and I thought it was a mannequin," she testified. "I was there a couple of seconds before I recognized the hairline on the side of MaryAnn's face."
Sister Theresa maintained her composure throughout her testimony, hesitating only slightly when shown State's Exhibit 1A -- a photograph of Sister MaryAnn's body, face down, naked from the waist down, lying bound and dead. A statue of Saint Elizabeth seemed to gaze down at the body from atop its pedestal.
Mr. Doory asked the witness whether she disturbed the body in any way.
Sister Theresa said she did not. "There was no life and there was no need. So we went up and called the police," she said.