Herbert H. Jumper, 26, a former bus driver and convenience store worker, was convicted by a Fairfax County jury yesterday of robbing and murdering a blind Falls Church man in October 1983. The jury recommended two life sentences.
The Circuit Court jury deliberated for about eight hours at the conclusion of a two-day trial before finding Jumper guilty in the shooting death of Paul Grier, 52, a counselor for the visually handicapped who was employed by the state of Virginia. Grier was found dead of a head wound in his condominium apartment at 3507 S. George Mason Dr.
The jury also convicted Jumper of burglary, recommending 10 years in prison for that offense, and illegal use of a firearm in commission of a felony, which carries a mandatory two-year sentence.
Jumper, of 3209 E St. SE, Washington, was jailed without bond pending sentencing March 15. Circuit Judge Jack B. Stevens can reduce but not increase the sentences recommended by the jury. Prosecutor Raymond L. Brownelle said that if all the recommended sentences are imposed, Jumper would be eligible for parole in 20 years.
The prosecution argued that Grier was shot when he returned home to find Jumper burglarizing his apartment.
Brownelle said a handkerchief with four hairs similar to Jumper's was found on Grier's bed and that Jumper was found in possession of the key to Grier's apartment after the slaying. Jumper was also found to have Grier's television and several pieces of his stereo equipment, the prosecutor said.
Jumper denied the killing in a 17-page statement to police, although he later admitted that parts of it were false, including assertions implicating two of his childhood friends in the slaying.
Defense attorney David Smith said in his closing arguments to the jury that there were no witnesses who could have placed Jumper in Grier's apartment and that, because Grier's body was not found immediately, the time of the slaying was itself in question.
There was, Smith argued, no reason to believe beyond a reasonable doubt that Jumper committed the crimes.
He acknowledged that Jumper had made inconsistent statements, but, he said, so had other witnesses "and that doesn't make them criminals -- it makes them human."
Jumper gave his statement to police, Smith said, because he was afraid of Bruce Barley, a Fairfax County investigator assigned to the case. He said Jumper falsified part of that statement to tell Barley what he thought the investigator wanted to hear so Barley would leave him alone.
In testimony, Barley denied pressuring Jumper into making a statement or threatening him.