The trial of Terrence G. Johnson, the black Bladensburg youth accused of killing two white Prince George's County polece officers inside the Hyattsville police station last June, opens today at the courthouse in Upper Marlboro amid thighter securty than the county has seen in years .
As the controversial case, which has already divided the county along racial lines, unfolds in court, three key actors will be in the spotlight: the presiding judge, the county's chief prosector,and the defense attorney for the 15-year-old Johnson .
What follow are brief sketches of the three .
In the four years since he was appointed to the bench, Judge Jacob S. Levin has gained a reputation in Puper Marlboro for two things: complete control of his courtroom, and a sly sense of humor that he often uses to dipel courtroom tension.
In addition, both prosecutors and defense attorneys who have appeared before him agree that Levin is a fair judge, although he is not known for the leiency of his sentencing.
Levin will not talk about his feelings concerning this trial. "i'm concerned with one thing only,"he said recenty, "and that is seeing to it that this youg man gets a fair trial. That is my job and I intend to do it."
Levin is familiar with being in the spotlight, having been assigned last year to preside over the trials of Gene T. Meyer and Lon A. Lewis, the two men convicted of murder in a grisly, "you kill my wife, I'll kill yours" plot.
Levin has said that he tries not to become emotionally mvolved in the cases he presodes over But while sentencing Lewis he admitted that he had broken his own rule during the trials of Meyer and Lewis.
As a resuit of the bargain struck by the two men, Lewis' wife and infant daughter were killed by Meyer.
"I have presided over many cases before this one and I will preside over many more in the future, I am sure," Levin told Lewis during sentencing.
"But I will take my memories of this case with me to the grave. I will never forget what me to the grave. I will never forget what you and Mr. Meyer have done." See LEVIN, C4, Col. 2 LEVIN, From C1
Asked later Why he thought that case had affected him, Levin said, "because it was all so unnecessary. Akk crime is unnecessary but this went further. It the man (Lewis) couldn't het along with his wife he could have just left her. It happens every day He didn't have to plot to jill her."
Levin's sense of humor was on display during a pretrial hearing in the Johnson case when the proceedibgs were interrupted by the loud to tolling of a bell. For the benefit of the press," Levin said. "let me explain the history of that bell. "He launched into a detailed explanation, finishing with, "There will be no charge for the history less," Even the normally stonefaced bailiffs were laughing when the recitation was complete.
Of his own role as judge in this trial Levin says, "I am not a key figure; neither are the lawyers. The only key figures are the those 12 people who sit in the jury box. When they make their decision everyone will accept it bucause it will be 12 people deciding. Not one, but 12." 130: Picture, *judge jacob s. levin/... in complete control