A defense attorney for Louis Hill III told a Harford County Circuit Court jury yesterday that his client never entered the Farmers Bank and Trust Co. in Randallstown 13 months ago, when four women were shot by masked robbers and left to die as they lay on the floor of the vault.
Baltimore County prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Hill, a 26-year-old college graduate and businessman, in the deaths of two of the bank employees. Two others survived. The trial was moved to Bel Air at Mr. Hill's request.
After Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst called her first witnesses, defense attorneys challenged their identification of Mr. Hill and told the jury that a third, unidentified man was involved in the holdup, not just the two who were arrested.
Ms. Brobst said Oct. 26, 1992, had been a busy Monday at the bank in the 9800 block of Liberty Road but that by 1:58 p.m. only the four employees were inside: branch manager Barbara "Bobbi" Aldrich and tellers Dorothy J. Langmead, Anastasia "Stacey" George and Cindy Ann Thomas.
Ms. Thomas, who survived the shootings with Mrs. Aldrich, was teaching the other two tellers a country two-step dance, Ms. Brobst said. Then two masked men -- one armed with a gun -- entered the bank, demanded money and herded the four women into the vault.
Mr. Hill then "systematically, coldly and calculatedly, one at a time, shoots them all in the back of the head [with] ammunition that is designed to explode inside the head. One after another, after another, after another," Ms. Brobst said. "Then he leaves them dead or dying to bleed to death in the vault."
Mrs. Aldrich testified yesterday that she survived to call for help, apparently because the blood that erupted when part of her finger was blown off made the gunman think she had been fatally wounded.
In other testimony yesterday, a customer who was outside the bank at the time said she heard the shots inside and saw two men leave. She provided a description of the car.
Just down Liberty Road, a group of county police officers heard the broadcast, and four minutes later they followed and cornered a gray Toyota Tercel parked by trash containers behind a shopping center.
There they arrested Mr. Hill, of the 300 block of Stevenson Lane in Rodgers Forge, and Benjamin Franklin Boisseau Jr., 23, of the 3100 block of Clifton Ave. in Baltimore. The officers recovered $5,000 in cash, along with clothing, bullet casings and the murder weapon, Mr. Hill's Mac-11 pistol, Ms. Brobst said.
Defense attorney David P. Henninger told the jury, "Mr. Hill told officers at the time he was stopped that there was another person involved in this offense who had been in the car and had gotten out [before] the officers stopped them."
In the Toyota, he said, were three pairs of gloves and three watch caps. Tests of the caps and the defendants' hair linked a red cap that the gunman supposedly was wearing to Mr. Boisseau, who was sentenced to life without parole earlier this year.
Mr. Henninger also attacked testimony by witnesses that both robbers were 6 feet tall, noting that Mr. Hill is considerably shorter than that.
He discounted an identification by another courtroom witness, noting that there was only one other young black man in the courtroom. He also said witnesses weren't shown photo arrays or lineups and that they saw his client's picture in the newspaper and on television.
He questioned the prosecution's assertion that Mr. Hill could drive the stick-shift car four miles down busy Liberty Road and change from the gunman's parka and bloody sneakers into a suit coat and dress shoes in less than seven minutes.
Before testimony began yesterday, defense attorneys asked to have the trial moved again because none of almost 100 potential jurors called Monday was black. Judge William O. Carr denied the motion.