Roberta Roper, glaring at one of the men accused of killing her daughter, Stephanie Ann, today identified tattered remnants of clothes the Frostburg State College senior wore the night she was slain in St. Mary's County this April.
"I can, absolutely" identify pieces of a flowered corduroy jacket, said the 45-year-old Prince George's County resident, her voice quivering slightly. "I saw Stephanie sew that," she said.
She also identified a purse she had bought in Wales and given to her daughter as a gift.
In addition, she remarked that a photograph admitted into evidence had been taken for the Frostburg State yearbook.
Roper, 22, a graphic-arts student, was awarded a posthumous degree from the western Maryland college a month after her death.
Testifying for 15 minutes, the victim's mother mostly maintained a calm, controlled demeanor. A few feet from the witness stand, defendant Jack Ronald Jones, 26, appeared to avert his eyes from Roberta Roper's accusing stare.
Jones is charged with the kidnaping, rape and murder of the honor student. A second defendant, Jerry Lee Beatty, 17, who is scheduled to be tried separately next month in Anne Arundel County, is expected to testify against Jones.
Jones' trial was moved to Baltimore County after a judge in St. Mary's County ruled that pretrial publicity there had been prejudicial to the defense.
A hint of the defense strategy emerged from cross-examination today of Joseph A. McGroarty, Jr., whose .22-caliber rifle was allegedly used to kill Roper.
Defense counsel Allen Shepherd, as he did with an earlier prosecution witness, sought to elicit testimony showing that Jones was a heavy drug user who, if under the influence at the time of the slaying, may not have acted in a premeditated manner.
In response to Shepherd's questions, McGroarty, 26, said he and Jones were close friends over a decade and frequently "got high" together on "anything we could get our hands on--PCP, LSD, downers-- mixed with Bacardi, grain alcohol, beer, whatever."
Asked how many times Jones used PCP, McGroarty replied, "I can't count that high." He recalled the time when Jones, after using the drug, did push-ups on the roof of a car "going 55 miles an hour" down Maryland Rte. 5.
Currently incarcerated for possession with intent to distribute PCP, McGroarty said he lent Jones the rifle in February so his friend, then unemployed, could "get some deer . . . for something to eat." He said Jones returned the rifle Easter Sunday, the night before he was arrested and charged with the murder.