A Baltimore County man was sentenced yesterday to five years in prison for helping to dispose of the body of his mother's boyfriend in a killing that prosecutors say was carried out by three members of a troubled family.
Anne Arundel County prosecutors said Christopher James Haarhoff, 21, who was initially charged with first-degree murder in the February 2006 death of Anthony Fertitta, helped his mother, Cynthia J. McKay, drag Fertitta's body out of her Millersville house, through a back door and onto the sidewalk of her community, where it was doused with gasoline and set afire.
His plea to one charge of being an accessory after the fact puts prosecutors one step closer toward tying up a case that attorneys on both sides have said is one of the most complex they have ever seen. McKay and Haarhoff's brother, Matthew, are scheduled to go to trial this spring.
Unknown to Fertitta, 50, a UPS driver and warehouse worker, he was dating a convicted con artist who just months before they met had been released from prison after embezzling more than $200,000 from a Baltimore seminary. It was one of more than a dozen fraud and theft convictions.
Prosecutors say McKay, 51, opened credit cards in Fertitta's name and intercepted the bills and bought a car by forging one of his checks.
Rose Acton, Fertitta's sister, appeared in court yesterday and read a victim impact statement before breaking down into sobs. "My brother was a hardworking man who only wanted to be loved," she said.
Defense attorney John M. McKenna said Haarhoff, a former resident of Baltimore Highlands, was a "flawed person" whose mother held great influence over him.
"To say his family life was dysfunctional is quite an understatement," McKenna said. "I can't articulate the pull his mother had over him."
Prosecutors say McKay called Haarhoff and proposed a robbery plot in December 2005 after Fertitta won $20,000 playing Keno.
The plan fell apart, but McKay is accused of continuing to steal from Fertitta. Two months later, she called Haarhoff, crying, and told him to come to her house, prosecutors said. When he walked in, prosecutors said, McKay was sitting on the stairs, covered in blood. Fertitta had been stabbed in the lungs, heart and neck, and had cuts on his hands.