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Testimony contradicted on prison confession


A convicted murderer told an Anne Arundel County Circuit jury yesterday that another inmate lied on the witness stand when he said Scotland E. Williams admitted killing two Washington lawyers.

Mark Anthony Wheelton told jurors that Mr. Williams "never said anything" during a conversation among inmates last June.

On Friday, Carl Spoon testified that Mr. Williams had told him he had killed Jose E. Trias, 49, and Julie Noel Gilbert, 48, for their Acura Legend. Mr. Williams, 31, of Arnold is accused of fatally shooting Mr. Trias and Ms. Gilbert in their weekend home in Winchester on the Severn on May 16. Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty in the first-degree murder case, which is being heard before Judge Eugene M. Lerner.

The state rested its case yesterday after six days of testimony from 36 witnesses, including five police officers, six evidence technicians, 10 scientific experts and the defendant's mother.

In defense testimony, Wheelton contradicted Spoon's recollection of a discussion among inmates.

Spoon, a landscaper convicted of felony theft and battery, testified Friday that he discussed with Mr. Williams the need to be "prepared for God" and that Mr. Williams responded by admitting that he killed Mr. Trias and Ms. Gilbert.

But Wheelton said that he took part in that conversation and that Mr. Williams just sat back and listened. Wheelton said Mr. Williams, Spoon and he were in adjacent cells at the time. "What Mr. Spoon said about Mr. Williams wasn't true," Wheelton told jurors.

Under cross-examination by State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, Wheelton acknowledged that he admitted killing 19-year-old Raymond Childress IV in Glen Burnie in May. He is serving a life sentence for that murder.

Wheelton, 17, of Lansdowne also admitted to a juvenile record that includes five convictions for breaking and entering and one each for theft, larceny and house breaking.

In other testimony yesterday, a molecular biologist criticized the prosecution's DNA test results.

Prosecution experts have testified that DNA scraped from a drinking glass in the victims' home belonged to Mr. Williams.

But Theodore Kessis, an expert in molecular biology from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, said the Polymerase Chain Reaction, or the PCR type DNA testing process used by the police, is too flawed to be trusted.

"I have great trouble with the readout and the interpretive results that they've provided," he said.

County police Detective David Harp testified that he believed that the killer got into the house through the living room sliding glass doors, although Mr. Williams' fingerprints or footprints were not found. He said impressions in the living room carpet showed furniture had been moved away from the doors and mulch on the carpet was identical to mulch in the yard right outside the doors.

Jeffrey Cover, chief of the police evidence collection unit, testified that he found palm prints on the railings outside the doors and shoe prints on the trim underneath them.

But he said the palm prints belonged to Ricky Cole, the victims' carpenter, and the shoe prints failed to match the size-7 shoe print left in the kitchen that police said belonged to Mr. Williams.

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