A Baltimore circuit judge denied a motion yesterday to acquit accused killer Joseph R. Metheny of first-degree murder, but he held off on rulings that are keys to whether Metheny could get the death penalty.
Judge Clifton J. Gordy said he will rule Tuesday afternoon on defense motions seeking acquittal on separate charges of attempted rape, attempted first-degree sex offense, robbery and murder while committing a felony.
The judge's rulings are critical to the state's chances of getting the death penalty for Metheny, who is on trial in the stabbing death of 23-year-old Kimberly Spicer.
Under Maryland law, Metheny must be convicted of first-degree murder and one of the other charges to remain eligible for the death sentence.
If the 43-year-old former forklift operator is found guilty of first-degree murder and any of the other charges, he will be tried separately to determine whether he should be put to death.
The Metheny case is the first time city State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy has sought the death penalty since she became VTC Baltimore's top prosecutor three years ago.
Yesterday, after the prosecution concluded its case, Metheny's lawyers argued that he did not steal anything from Spicer and did not have sex with her before she was killed.
They also argued that he had been drinking and taking drugs before Spicer was stabbed and cut 26 times.
"I have to concede that a murder occurred," said defense lawyer Margaret Mead. But she added, "The state has failed to prove Mr. Metheny willfully with premeditation deliberately killed Kimberly Spicer."
Prosecutor Emanuel Brown said testimony at the two-week trial showed that Metheny told a friend that he had killed Spicer because she owed him $300.
"That does manifest intent," he said.
Pub Date: 5/09/98