State plans use of DNA evidence; Opening statements presented in trial over '96 Pasadena killing


Hoping to convince a jury that Richard W. Brooks is a killer, Anne Arundel County prosecutors plan to use DNA evidence today to place the 34-year-old man at the scene of a grisly 1996 killing in Pasadena.

Experts matched genetic material of Brooks to the DNA in blood found in a pants pocket of James F. Holtgreve and saliva in a motorcycle helmet left in the kitchen of Holtgreve's secluded home in the 700 block of Seaborne Court, Assistant State's Attorney Fred M. Paone said in the trial's opening remarks yesterday. Holtgreve was killed December 1996.

Brooks, who had no fixed address, is charged with first-degree murder, and prosecutors are hoping to see Circuit Judge Joseph P. Manck sentence him to life without the possibility of parole.

The case has not gone as planned for prosecutors, who were hoping to show that the killing had been called for by Anthony Phillips, a Pasadena man serving 11 1/2 years on a federal drug conviction. Phillips blamed Holtgreve for his arrest and, using at least one intermediary, had Brooks commit the killing, Paone told the jury.

"Mr. Phillips felt that he [Holtgreve] had ratted him out," Paone said.

But the jurors heard no testimony yesterday to support that contention. Most of what they were allowed to hear about how police turned up Brooks as a suspect was stricken from the record as hearsay or for technical legalities.

Keith J. Gross, acting county public defender, successfully blocked questions about how Brooks was implicated. He alluded in his opening statements to other people having had disputes with Holtgreve, a bodybuilder who stood about 6 feet 5 inches.

"People had a motive to kill Mr. Holtgreve, and those people obviously have not been charged," Gross said in his opening remarks. "This man had enemies, and you will see that."

Holtgreve, 32, was shot several times in the head and his throat was cut twice. His body was found in a pool of blood the night of Dec. 23, 1996, just inside the doorway of his home by a roommate. Blood was on the front door and in various places inside the house.

Holtgreve's wallet was gone and a drawer in his bedroom bureau was open, police testified.

Police said Holtgreve, a member of the Pagans motorcycle club, had asked Brooks to steal a motorcycle for him.

David Plummer, 27, the roommate who found Holtgreve's body, testified that he had heard rumors that Holtgreve and Phillips had a conflict, but knew nothing beyond that.

Another former roommate, Steven Ulrich, 32, testified that Holtgreve owed people money, and that Holtgreve told him he was having problems with fellow Pagans that September.

The trial is expected to continue into next week.

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