Fearful of parking in the lower level of Iverson Mall while shopping with her daughter and future son-in-law last year, Jean Lowe said, she opted instead for an outdoor space on a lot by Branch Avenue -- a choice that put them squarely in the path of danger.
"I thought it would be safer," Lowe, a Temple Hills resident, recalled.
Lowe testified yesterday in Prince George's Circuit Court that when the trio returned to her car after 90 minutes, two men tried to abduct her and her daughter, Chris.
The fiance, Rolf Richard Seiferth, 18, tried to thwart the attack and was fatally shot in the head during a scuffle with one of the men, said Robert H. Harvey, an assistant state's attorney. Prince George's County police and the Lowes say that the gunman was Kenneth Guinyard, 24, of 4654 Hayes St. NE.
Guinyard is charged with first-degree murder, four counts of using a handgun in the commission of a crime, three counts of attempted kidnaping, three counts of attempted armed robbery and three counts of assault with intent to rob in the Nov. 19, 1984, incident.
For the alleged offenses, the state is seeking the death penalty.
Jean Lowe said she watched from the driver's seat of her car as Seiferth struggled with the assailant and, when she saw a second man coming toward the car, she got out.
"I wanted to run," she said, "but I couldn't. I couldn't leave them."
She testified that she watched as the assailant pushed Seiferth, who stumbled back with his head lowered, and then the assailant "shot Ricky right through the head."
Police took Guinyard into custody a few minutes afterward. Both Lowes identified Guinyard at the scene of the crime.
Under cross-examination by Malcolm Houston, Guinyard's attorney, Jean Lowe said that her on-the-scene-identification of Guinyard had not been as positive as her identification from the witness stand.
Chris Lowe, 18, testified that she watched the struggle from the back seat of the car, where Guinyard had pushed her.
"I kept yelling, 'Please don't shoot him,' " she said.
After Seiferth was shot, Chris Lowe said, the gunman fled. She said that she got out of the car and saw blood coming from Seiferth's head.
"I put my head on his chest and I felt his heart beating," Chris Lowe testified, "and I started screaming. I think I screamed all night."
Seiferth died a short time later at Greater Southeast Community Hospital, police said.
The second man accused in the crimes, Charles William Wade Jr., 24, of 1318 Dunbar Oaks Dr., Capitol Heights, has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder. Wade has not yet been sentenced.