The trial of a District man accused with his twin of robbing a wealthy Bethesda neighborhood opened yesterday in Montgomery County Circuit Court with a carpet store owner recounting the terror of being tied up for an hour and a half with his seriously ill wife while two men wearing ski masks and brandishing guns ransacked the couple's home for cash, jewelery and furs.
"They could've taken anything -- all we wanted was to stay alive," said Harold Reznick, owner of Diener's Carpet and Tile, a chain of seven stores in Maryland, Virginia and the District.
Anthony Andrew Rice, 37, of 4917 Arkansas Ave. NW, is charged with armed robbery and burglary, among other charges, in the Jan. 17, 1984, incident in Reznick's home.
In opening arguments, defense attorney Patrick Smith said Anthony Rice was visiting his dying mother at Washington Hospital Center about the time of the incident and could not have committed "an act of terrorism."
Also charged but scheduled for a separate trial is Rice's identical twin brother, Arnold Haywood Rice of 215 Spring Street, Takoma Park. Montgomery County police and prosecutors said the brothers are known by the alias "The Twins." Anthony Rice has been charged in two other cases, one of which is scheduled for trial next week. His brother also faces charges in one similar case.
Reznick testified yesterday that he and his wife, Cynthia, who had had major surgery just five days earlier, were watching television when two men suddenly appeared in their den "as if they came out of the ceiling." The two pointed guns at the couple and ordered them to kneel on the floor, he said. Then they bound the couple's hands and feet with Reznick's neckties and made the couple lie face down on the floor.
Reznick identified for the jury five fur coats and dozens of pieces of jewelry found in the truck of Rice's car the day after the robbery.
"I said, 'Please don't hurt her, she's just had surgery,' and they would kick me whatever I said," Reznick continued. After the robbery, Reznick said, "We were afraid to go home. We're still frightened out of our minds."
The Reznick's neighbors apparently felt the same way. Residents formed the Bannockburn Neighborhood Association last March and hired a private security patrol to supplement regular county police patrols. Minerva Etzioni, secretary of the 158-member organization, said it was formed "out of fright. The objective after those burglaries was to get organized, and we've been very successful in that. There have been no burglaries since we started."
Etzioni said members pay $260 a year, which includes the patrol service, home inspections while residents are away, and a computerized system that keeps track of car tag numbers when residents are out of town.