Jason Aaron DeLong's friends yesterday described his mother -- whom he is accused of fatally stabbing last summer -- as a strange, unstable, abusive woman.
"She was strange, quiet," Tara Evans, 17, said of Cathryn Brace Farrar, Mr. DeLong's mother. "She was, well, evil. There was something very scary, something you don't feel comfortable around."
Miss Evans was one of four friends who testified before the Carroll County jury of nine women and three men hearing Mr. DeLong's trial on first-degree murder charges. Yesterday was the trial's ninth day.
Mr. DeLong is accused in the deaths of Ms. Farrar, 39, and her boyfriend, George William Wahl, 35, who were stabbed fatally in her apartment on July 29, 1993. Their bodies were found Aug. 2.
Mr. DeLong has pleaded innocent and not criminally responsible because of insanity brought on by a lifetime of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. His co-defendant, Sara Elizabeth Citroni, 18, pleaded guilty to the killings in July and is to be sentenced in two weeks.
Miss Evans lived in the same apartment complex -- Bishop's Garth in Westminster -- as Mr. DeLong and his mother. She recalled taking an instant liking to Mr. DeLong, but an almost as instant dislike of Ms. Farrar.
"Jason was a very lonely person that wanted a friend," Miss Evans said. "He wanted somebody that he knew would be there for him, any time of the day or night. He was always welcome in our house."
Miss Evans told the jury that, on one occasion, she and Mr. DeLong went to his apartment and thought Ms. Farrar was gone.
"I was by her bedroom door. She was laying naked on the bed," Miss Evans testified as her eyes welled with tears. "She said, 'Come on, Jason, it's time.' "
Miss Evans couldn't recall exactly when she saw the incident, which prosecutors used to cast doubt on the recollection.
Another friend, Angie Moffatt, 16, told the jury of a similar incident at the Farrar home. She said she saw Ms. Farrar on her bed, calling Mr. DeLong.
Miss Moffatt, a ninth-grader at Westminster High School, said she met Jason on a school bus in January 1993. She said she liked him because he "was smarter than all my other friends. He helped me with my homework."
She and Miss Evans recalled seeing Ms. Farrar's temper explode. "One time, she told Jason to clean his room, and when he told her it was already clean, she flipped out and threw a rabbit cage and hamster cage at us," Miss Evans said.
Miss Evans said Mr. DeLong often was at a loss to explain his mother's behavior to his friends. "The only thing Jason said to me was his mom was crazy and that she had problems," Miss Evans said.
Ron Baker, who testified he was Mr. DeLong's lover and friend for about eight months, told the jury that his friend never had a key to his own apartment and often had to knock "for hours" to get in.
"He was being tormented like a caged animal sometimes," Mr. Baker told the jury.
The friends' recollections are at the heart of Mr. DeLong's defense strategy. His attorneys contend that Mr. DeLong was driven insane by an abusive, neglectful mother and by being shuttled between her, his father in Florida and child protective service agencies in Maryland, North Carolina and Florida.
One of the psychologists who treated Mr. DeLong in Maryland told the jury yesterday that his patient had no self-esteem.
"Jason didn't think he had much value," said Edward Arndt, who treated Mr. DeLong in 1991 and 1993.
The trial is to resume Tuesday with more testimony from mental health specialists.