Gene T. Meyer, 28, was convicted last night of murdering a Bowie housewife and her infant daughter last October.
A Prince George's County Circuit Court jury deliberated less than four hours before returning verdicts of first-degree murder in the stabbing death of Carol Lewis and second degree (unpremeditated) murder in the death of her baby. Meyer's bond was immediately revoked and sentencing scheduled for June 6.
Before the jurors began their deliberations, the prosecution told them that Meyer is a "calculating and sophisticated" man who formed a murder plot against Mrs. Lewis and her daughter "like a hit man."
Earlier, the defense asserted that Meyer was a "frightened and scared" man who signed a statement implicating himself in the slayings last Oct. 8 only after police beat and threatened him.
Meyer, a Rockville computer technician, has been on trial since last Thursday on charges of murdering 28-year-old Mrs. Lewis and 4-month-old Heather Lewis last Sept. 23. He is accused of stabbing them and leaving them on the blood-drenched floor in the kitchen of their home at 4807 Raemore La., Bowi.
The mother-daughter stabbings were the first half of an "I'll-kill-your-wife-you-kill-mine" pact between Meyer and Mrs. Lewis' husband, Lon, according to the testimony of investigators at previous hearings in the case. Lewis also has been charged with murder in connection with the deaths of his wife and daughter and is awaiting trial.
During the Meyer trial, the jury heard a Prince George's County policemen read a four-page signed statement in which Meyer said he stabbed Carol Lewis "three or four times."
The statement said Meyer had gone to the Lewis home and exchanged "congenailities" with the young mother before they both walked into the kitchen, Mrs. Lewis with the baby in her arms.
"The dog was barking outside," the statement went on. "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."
In the statement, meyer denied killing the infant.
Meyer, who took the witness stand Tuesday, testified that he signed the statement only after police beat and threatened him when he was arrested last Oct. 8.
In a low monotone, Meyer testified that on that day Cpl. David Hatfield "kept hitting me evertime I asked for a lawyer." He also told the jury that Cpl. Mike Morrissette threatened that Meyer would go to jail and "be killed" there if he didn't sign a statement.
Both Hatfield and Morrisette took the witness stand yesterday and denied Meyer's charges. In a closing argument later yesterday, defense attorney Joseph DePaul told jurors that police had tailored the signed statement to fit the facts of the slayings.
The police had a case and they needed somebody to say 'I did those things'", DePaul told the jurors.
He maintained that his client's right to see a lawyer after he was arrested and his constitutional protection against involuntary self-incrimination were violated by police.
DePaul said his cocounsel, David Martin, who had attempted to find Meyer at the police station last Oct. 8, had been given "the station house game." He said police had "run him ragged to keep him from seeing his client."
DePaul gave the jury a history lesson in U.S. Supreme Court and Maryland cases establishing a suspect's rights. He asked them to consider those cases and find Gene Meyre inncoent.
Deputy State's Attorney Joseph Sauerwein, in a lengthy rebuttal, scoffed at DePaul's argument.
Pointing to the defendant, Wauerwein asked jorors: "Does this look like a scared little . . . computer technicial to you?"
The prosecutor maintained instead that Meyer was a man who "formed the murder plan like a hit man," carried it out and would not have been afraid to stand up for his rights once arrested.
Sauerwein asked the jury to carefully consider the testimony of the defendant and of Cpl. Morrissette.
"Who do you believe?" Sauerwein asked the jury, "this man or Morrissette?"
Moments later the jury retired from Circuit Court Judge Jacob Levin's courtroom to deliberate.