Gene Meyer, the Rockville computer technician accused of murdering a Bowie housewife and her infant daughter, testified yesterday that after his arrest, Prince George's County police threatened and beat him until he signed a statement implicating himself in the crime.
Meyer told the jury in Prince George's County CIrcuit Court that one officer "kept hitting me, every time I asked for a lawyer," and that another threatened that Meyer would go to jail and "be killed" there if he didn't sign a statement.
Before Meyer took the witness stand, one of the investigators he accused of harassment testified that Meyer had admitted going to 28-year-old Carol Lewis' home at 4807 Raemore La. last Sept. 23 "because I was going to eliminate" her.
Corp. Mike Morrissette read the four-page statement, which Meyer allegedly made, to a hushed courtroom filled with relatives and neighbors of Mrs. Lewis and her four-month-old daughter Heather.
Meyer is accused of plotting Mrs. Lewis' murder with her husband Lon, a colleague at the computer company where he worked. Investigators have said at previous court hearings that the mother-daughter stabbings were the first half of a "you-kill-my-wife and I'll-kill-yours" pact between the two husbands. Lewis is now awaiting trial on murder charges.
Yesterday, Meyer accused Cpl. David Hartfield of hitting him "in the neck, shoulders and above the ears" and "knocking his glasses off" while questioning him last Oct. 8 in a tiny interrogration room at the county's Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
Meyer also said Hatfield was one of the officers who came to his Rockville apartment at about 7 a.m. that day and "dragged me out." Meyer said that as he was dragged away he yelled to his wife, "Call my lawyer."
Earlier in the case, defense attorneys was not allowed to see a lawyer until he had made two separate statements to police.
In the first statement, which Meyer gave to Cpl. Hatfield, the defendant denied involvement in the Lewis slayings.
But later that night, according to Meyer, Morrissette burst into the tiny room where Meyer was handcuffed to a pole and started "yelling and screaming" at him.
"He kept calling me baby-killer . . . he kept calling me a crazy man," Meyer told the jury in a low voice that was almost inaudible at times.
"'If you don't sign this (statement) you are going to jail and in January are going to be killed,'" Meyer said Morrissette told him.
During that session with Morrissette, Meyer made a second statement - the typed four-page statement that the corporal read to jurors yesterday.
Before Meyer took the witness stand, Morrissette told jurors how the defendant allegedly had described driving to the Lewis home last Sept. 23, walking to the door and exchanging "congenialities" with Mrs. Lewis for a few seconds.
Morrissette then began reading from Meyer's statement.
"We then walked into the kitchen," Morrissette read. "The dog was barking outside. The next thing I remember was the knife was in my hand and she (Carol Lewis) was down on the floor. I see blood in the area of the head. I then threw the knife behind me. I think that the baby was crying."
In the statement, Meyer denied killing the infant, according to Morrissette. But Meyer did admit that he and Lewis "had talked about" killing Carol Lewis during a conversation in their office last August, Morrissette told the jury.
Under cross-examination, Morrissette denied that Meyer had been asking for a lawyer for more than 15 hours while police questioned him, as the defense contends.
Morrissette also told defense attorney Joseph DePaul yesterday that he had informed Meyer of his right to an attorney and his right to remain silent before questioning him.
Hatfield, at previous hearings in the case, denied that he had physically abused Meyer during questioning.