CHESTERTOWN — CHESTERTOWN - In a racially charged case that has put rural Kent County in an unaccustomed spotlight, a 20-year-old Eastern Shore man was convicted yesterday of second-degree murder and two counts of attempted murder in the Dec. 4 shotgun slaying of a 73-year-old black woman as she and two companions returned home from Christmas shopping.
Daniel R. Starkey, who with his 24-year-old brother, David W. Starkey Jr., was charged with murder and committing a hate crime in the death of Germaine Porcea Clarkston, could face up to 30 years in prison on each count. He is scheduled for sentencing Aug. 11.
An all-white jury of nine men and three woman, who frequently sent scribbled notes to Kent County Circuit Judge J. Frederick Price asking for legal clarifications, considered the complex case for nearly nine hours, beginning with one session that lasted until 11:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Price, who threw out hate crime charges against Daniel Starkey on Wednesday for lack of evidence, urged those in the tense courtroom yesterday to remember that jurors had considered the charges long and seriously before reaching a verdict. "I would ask anyone in this courtroom to respect that verdict," he said.
Starkey, dressed in a blue oxford shirt, red tie and khakis, stood motionless as he faced the jury. Behind him, his mother, Elizabeth, wept and clutched hands with her husband, David W. Starkey Sr., and their youngest son, Wayne J. Starkey, who graduated last week from Kent County High School.
Across from them in the wood-paneled second-floor courtroom, two dozen members of Clarkston's family and friends, many of whom attended the four-day trial, leaned forward tensely, shaking their heads in disagreement as jury forewoman Jenny An read from the 12-count verdict sheet.
An pronounced Starkey not guilty of first-degree murder - a charge that carries a sentence of life without parole. The jury also found him not guilty of conspiracy to commit the murder.
Clarkston's only child, Linwood Clarkston Jr., said he and other family members were not surprised at the outcome.
"This is what I expected, not what I wanted the result to be," said Clarkston, 56, who lived next door to his mother in their rural community of Georgetown, outside Chestertown. "We were hoping for first degree."
Sandra Hall, Germaine Clarkston's niece, said a first-degree murder conviction might have reassured a shaken African-American community. Already, she said, many are looking ahead to the trial next week of David Starkey, who is accused of firing the shotgun blasts that killed Clarkston and injured her cousin Meriam Spriggs and Spriggs' daughter Michelle Wilson, 38.
"I think [the jury] needs to make a statement in something like this; you have to do something with this kind of killing," Hall said. "Next week is going to be the real deal. Some people just shouldn't be in society."
The brothers are accused of stalking the three women Dec. 4 for more than 20 miles over dark country roads in Danny Starkey's pickup truck after nearly rear-ending Clarkston's compact car when Wilson, who was driving, stopped abruptly at a new traffic circle near the Starkeys' hometown of Millington near the Delaware border.
The brothers, who had been drinking most of the day while hunting with friends, tailed the women until they turned into Chestertown, an African-American community almost 2 centuries old.
It was then, police and prosecutors say, that Danny Starkey passed the small hatchback, enabling his brother to fire two heavy-weight deer slugs from his double-barreled 12-gauge shotgun. Clarkston, hit in the hip, suffered extensive internal injuries and died at Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore two days later. Spriggs was hit by flying glass, and Wilson was struck by a piece of metal ripped from the car.
Prosecutor Robert H. Strong Jr., who cited the coming trial of David Starkey as his reason for making few comments yesterday, will try again in that case to prove that the shooting came because David Starkey is a racist who made a cellular phone call to a friend minutes after the shooting, boasting that he was eligible for a "13 tattoo" because he had committed a racial crime.
Frustrated by Daniel Starkey's defense team, who argued successfully that their client could not be tainted by his brother's motivations, Strong also hopes to show jurors white supremacist tattoos worn by his brother David.
"For this one, the hate crime should be there," said Linwood Clarkston. "It will be more explicit in this case."