Consolidation of sex abuse trials denied


City Circuit Judge Robert I. H. Hammerman denied a defense motion yesterday in the John J. Merzbacher sexual assault case to consolidate the trials involving two other alleged victims.

Merzbacher's defense attorney, M. Cristina Guitierrez, asked the judge to combine the trials because the next two cases involve a man who, as a teen-ager, lived with Mr. Merzbacher and the man's girlfriend at the time. Ms. Guitierrez argued that many of the charges against the former teacher involve incidents in which both alleged victims were present.

Prosecutors, however, argued that the time of the alleged sexual assaults did not totally overlap for each victim and that a weakness perceived by the jury in one case might taint the other case in a single trial.

Merzbacher was convicted Thursday in his first trial of raping Elizabeth Ann Murphy, now 34, when she was a student at Catholic Community Middle School in South Baltimore from 1972 to 1975.

He may have 13 more trials involving other alleged victims. Judge Hammerman set Monday for his bail review.

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