Jason Aaron DeLong testified yesterday that he is a confused, misunderstood young man who killed his abusive mother in an uncontrollable rage.
But, in cross-examination, the prosecutor in Mr. DeLong's first-degree murder trial attempted to show that the defendant was a chronic liar who invented tales of abuse by his mother to get attention.
Mr. DeLong, 19, took the stand yesterday to tell of sexual and physical abuse he endured from his mother for most of his life. He also told jurors he feared his mother and that his deep anger might eventually cause him to kill someone.
"I was trying to tell them [his foster parents] of this rage I get inside," he said. He is charged with the July 29, 1993, stabbing deaths of Cathryn Brace Farrar and her boyfriend, George William Wahl.
Mr. DeLong and his girlfriend of one week, Sara Citroni, were arrested five days after the slayings in Jupiter, Fla. Citroni, 18, pleaded guilty to murder in July. Mr. DeLong has pleaded innocent and not criminally responsible.
"I was trying to give examples of how bad it was," Mr. DeLong said. He said he had talked to one of his foster siblings in 1991 about possibly waking up and finding everyone slashed.
His foster mother, Diane Brown, then asked social services to place him in another family. Mrs. Brown eventually took Mr. DeLong back for three months in 1993 after he had lived in a Reisterstown youth home, with his father in Jupiter and then back again with his mother.
"But they misinterpreted," Mr. DeLong said, describing a scene he said was repeated in 1992 when his father, Donald DeLong, and his stepmother, Kim DeLong, sent him back to Maryland.
"They [the Browns] thought I posed a threat to them," he said. "I tried to correct it, but they wouldn't listen."
In a very soft voice with his head hung low, Mr. DeLong spoke of his mother's "nagging me for sex," her jealousy of his girlfriends and his confused sense of love for her.
"She [Ms. Farrar] told me I only needed one woman in my life and that was her," Mr. DeLong said. He had told the court he kept returning to his mother's Westminster home because he "missed her."
"I agreed with her because I didn't want to disagree with her," he said. "It would have made her more upset. I told her I loved her. I did have feelings of love for my mother, not always like having sex with her."
The idea for murder, he said, came from Citroni, to whom he had said much about his unhappy life during he week he knew her.
"Sara kept harassing me to kill my mom," Mr. DeLong said. "She kept calling me a chicken because I didn't want to kill my mom. I kept trying to block her out. She said if I didn't do it, she would do it."
The day of the killings, Citroni continued to egg Mr. DeLong on after he got into a fight with his mother, he said. Then in his mind, he said, the room went black and gray and he began to hallucinate that his mother was stabbing him while backing him into a corner. He later realized he was not wounded.
"Something inside me snapped," Mr. DeLong said. He testified that he had not consumed drugs or alcohol for at least three weeks before the deaths. "I was in a rage. I couldn't stop. I couldn't stop.
"I'm sorry for what I did. I didn't mean to do it."
Mr. DeLong also said stealing his mother's money and car and running away to Florida were Citroni's idea. He told the court he wanted to turn himself in.
"I said we've got to tell somebody, like the police, what happened," said Mr. DeLong, who described himself as "numb" and "floating" during this time.
In cross-examination, prosecutor Timothy J. Doory tried to paint Mr. DeLong as a chronic liar who blamed others for his problems.
He tried to catch the defendant in an inconsistency by repeatedly asking him the same question, a tactic that led to bickering between the head attorneys.
Mr. Doory asked Mr. DeLong five times whether he had fabricated a story about his mother nailing him to a closet door. Defense attorney Luther C. West objected, insisting Mr. DeLong had already admitted he told Citroni the lie while describing other abuse.
Mr. Doory also tried to discredit Mr. DeLong by pointing to incidents in which he recanted allegations of his mother's sexual abuse. However, the teen stuck to his original testimony and said he recanted either out of fear or because his father told him to.
Mr. DeLong had testified earlier that when he told a vice principal in Florida about his mother's sexual abuse, his father had become angry and made him tell her he invented the story.
The trial will continue today.