A Prince George's County jury is to resume its deliberations this morning in the case of a 28-year-old Alabama man charged with murdering and attempting to rape a foreign student who was attending the University of Maryland four years ago.
The jurors, who began deliberating at 8:45 a.m. yesterday, recessed shortly after 2 a.m. this morning. They are to resume at 11 a.m.
The defendant, Howard Hines, denied charges that he attempted to rape the student, 23-year-old Michioyo Nakada, stabbed her to death and set her on fire on June 21, 1979. He was an early suspect in the slaying, but was not charged with it until last year when Prince George's police found him serving a sentence for rape in Alabama.
Nakada, who had come from the University of Okinawa to study psychology in 1975, was found in a wooded area near her apartment in Hyattsville. She was nude and had been stabbed 40 times in the neck and chest, and parts of her body were burned.
Prosecutor David M. Simpson, while acknowledging that his case was "circumstantial," told the Circuit Court jurors in final arguments Thursday that several witnesses had seen Hines in the woods where Nakada was killed, had seen him running from the scene, and seen him "sweating and acting nervous." He said Hines disappeared shortly after the body was found, which further indicated "a guilty mind."
Defense attorney Joseph M. Niland said his defense "has been that the defendant has simply not done this." He reminded jurors that Hines repeatedly denied the killing during police interrogations and said the prosecution had relied on "circumstantial evidence."
Niland criticized identifications made by prosecution witnesses, noting that one had acknowledged she never saw Hines' face. While the killing was tragic, he said, "the state has failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt" that Hines was the culprit.
If convicted of the murder charge, Hines could be sentenced to death. The same jury would reconvene to decide whether he should be put to death in Maryland's gas chamber.
Detectives who interviewed Hines in Alabama testified he repeatedly denied the killing, but acknowledged walking through the woods about the time Nakada was killed. When a scenario of the killing was suggested, they said, Hines replied: "If that's the way you say it happened, that's the way it happened." When asked how he felt about Nakada's death, detecives testified, Hines replied: "Just because I killed her doesn't mean I have to feel anything."