Edward Gentry would readily exchange his life for that of his slain daughter, he told a Howard County jury pondering the fate of her killer yesterday.
"My son is destroyed. My wife is destroyed. I'm destroyed," he said, choking back tears. "There's no joy in our house anymore."
Mr. Gentry was testifying in the sentencing hearing of Darris A. Ware, who was convicted last week of killing his daughter, Betina Kristi Gentry, 18, and a friend, Cynthia Allen, 22, in the Gentrys' Severn home.
The jurors who convicted Ware of first-degree murder could order a death sentence, life without parole or a life sentence.
Ms. Gentry and Ms. Allen were killed Dec. 30, 1993. They were found shot in their heads and chests in the home on the 1900 block of Bastille Court that Ms. Gentry shared with her mother.
Yesterday, Ware's lawyers tried to show their client had led a mundane, crime-free life prior to the murders.
Berthie Singleton, Ware's grandmother, appeared on videotape to say he had never hurt anyone while he was growing up in his native Fort Pierce, Fla. She held up a color photo of Ware in his blue Navy seaman's uniform.
"That's a photograph of my grandson, and I'd like the jury to know it. Does that seem like a murderer's face?" she asked.
But prosecutors focused on the emotional devastation of the victims' families.