CHESTERTOWN -- A police investigator who took the confession of one of two Kent County brothers accused of murder and a hate crime in the shooting of a 73-year-old black woman testified yesterday that Daniel R. Starkey told him he never knew his brother intended to harm anyone in the car the pair had chased for 20 miles after a minor traffic dispute in December.
Starkey, 20, has acknowledged driving the pickup truck in which he and his brother followed Germaine Porcea Clarkston, her cousin Meriam Spriggs, 68, and Spriggs' daughter Michelle Wilson, 38, as the women returned to their rural neighborhood from a Christmas shopping trip.
Starkey, whose trial began Monday in Circuit Court, told police that at first, he didn't know anyone had been hit by two shotgun blasts fired from the truck, said Detective Sgt. Scott Metzbower, a Kent sheriff's department investigator.
"He said he did not even know the race of the occupants of the car," Metzbower said.
The brothers, who are white, are life-long residents of Millington, a small Kent County town near the Delaware border.
Police say the pickup truck pursued the women for more than 30 minutes over dark country roads. David W. Starkey, 24, who is scheduled for trial next week, is charged with firing two shotgun blasts, one of which fatally wounded Clarkston.
Each could be sentenced to life without parole if they are convicted in the Dec. 4 shooting.
Federal authorities are conducting a civil rights investigation that could bring further charges.
Kent County prosecutors failed yesterday to link Daniel Starkey to racist comments police said were made by David Starkey in a cellular phone conversation moments after the brothers sped away from the remote African-American community where Clarkston was shot.
Daniel Starkey told police he began following the car carrying the three women because its driver was driving erratically. About 20 minutes before Clarkston was mortally wounded, David Starkey called police to report that the driver of the car they were following appeared to be drunk.
Wilson, the driver of the car who was found to have a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit the night of the shooting, described herself as "sober as a judge." She denied that she had been drinking before the three women began driving home from a shopping trip to Dover, Del.
Wilson suffered a seizure in the courtroom and was taken to a Chestertown hospital for observation. She was in stable condition last night. Kent County prosecutor Robert H. Strong Jr. is expected to complete his case today.