A Baltimore County jury concluded Monday that Frederick A. Christian killed his girlfriend — the mother of their 2-year-old child — in November 2009 and that he used a gun to do so, even though the weapon was never found and, prosecutors conceded, much of the evidence against him was circumstantial.
Testimony in Christian's trial, which lasted more than a week, showed that the body of 23-year-old Jerryell Myesha Foster was dumped near a highway in Virginia, where it was found several months after she disappeared from the apartment in Cockeysville she had shared with the defendant and their daughter.
As each of the jurors was polled by a clerk, Christian, a 31-year-old used-car salesman, looked on without visible reaction. He had taken the stand in his defense last week and, sometimes contentiously, testified that he had no idea what happened to Foster and that she had simply vanished on Nov. 24, 2009, after saying she was going to work.
He could not convincingly explain why he had poured bleach over the carpets in their home — he said the child had spilled some juice — or why he had gotten rid of a red love seat immediately after she went missing. Prosecutors said it was because he was trying to obliterate blood and other evidence of the killing.
Baltimore County Circuit Judge Sherrie R. Bailey, who presided over the trial, did not set a sentencing date pending completion of a pre-sentencing report. The two prosecutors who handled the case, Rachel E. Karceski and David Lemanski, said after the hearing that they would ask for a sentence of life without parole, as is customary in Maryland in cases of first-degree murder.
It is also customary, the prosecutors told the jury in their closing arguments, for circumstantial evidence to be given the same weight as physical evidence and other factors presented as proof that a murder occurred. Although Christian was suspected of committing the crime from the beginning, and made statements to detectives that suggested he knew where Foster's body was, he never gave up the information, and the state's attorney's office for a time considered prosecuting the defendant in a "no body" case. Her body was eventually found on March 2, 2010.
In the end, his trial became a matter of convincing the jury that the defendant had the motive to kill the victim and that he had tried to cover his tracks. Lemanski told the jury that Christian could no longer "control" Foster, who had threatened to toss him out of her apartment, and that he had given her a black eye two days before she vanished.
"I'm just glad that he knows justice is coming," Rashawn Thompson, an uncle of the victim, said after the verdict. "It was a long process, but now she can rest in peace. He's put away, hopefully, for the rest of his life."