Three persons other than those 10 now standing trial are responsible for the murder and robbery of Catherine Fuller, the lawyer for the man accused of the crime's most vicious act argued yesterday as she branded the government's case "magic run amok" and her client its victim.
"There are no fingerprints, no physical evidence to link my client to this crime, nothing but the testimony of witnesses who . . . have reasons to lie," Lillian McEwen, attorney for 20-year-old Levy Rouse, told a D.C. Superior Court jury in her summation.
"The people who caused the death of Mrs. Fuller are the very people who orchestrated the illusion of the facts that have been presented to you in this trial," said McEwen, naming Harry J. Bennett and Calvin L. Alston, two men who testified for the government in exchange for pleading guilty to reduced charges. Charges against the third man she identified, 19-year-old Darryl Murchison, have been dismissed.
McEwen, her voice rising, ridiculed the government's theory that Fuller was randomly selected as a robbery victim by a group hanging out in the park one day. "It is not consistent with human nature" and "it doesn't make sense," she argued.
"Why would 10 to 13 people say let's participate in a robbery in a public street before dark . . . ?" asked McEwen, who said such a large group would "mean less money and more of a likelihood that they'll get caught."
Rouse has been named by seven witnesses as participating in Fuller's beating and several said it was Rouse who thrust a foot-long pole into Fuller's rectum.
McEwen's summation, the fourth closing argument, was followed yesterday by arguments from two other defense attorneys, leaving four defense attorneys to argue their cases before the jury. Judge Robert M. Scott told the jurors he hoped to instruct them on Monday.
Describing her version of events, McEwen told the jury she was "sure there are some questions in your mind" about Rouse's defense and the the large number of witnesses who identified him. Rouse testified he spent Oct. 1, 1984 -- the day the 48-year-old mother of six was beaten in a Northeast alley -- with two friends visiting carry-outs and arcades.
McEwen said that every one of the witnesses who placed Rouse in the alley had a reason to lie. Alston, she said, was the one who assaulted Fuller with a pole.
"Calvin Alston showed you what he did, right here," McEwen said, pointing to the spot where Alston reenacted for the court how he said Rouse attacked Fuller.
McEwen said that Bennett and Katrina M. Ward, the mother of Rouse's child, now are lovers. They both "have very good reasons to want Levy Rouse locked up for the rest of his life," she said, adding that the remaining witnesses were trying to help their friends, Bennett and Alston, or trying to stay out of jail themselves.
Finally, McEwen compared all the "illusions" created by the witnesses to a Walt Disney movie in which Mickey Mouse as "The Sorcerer's Apprentice" can't control the magic he has unleashed. "It's magic run amok . . . magic that destroys . . . . Isn't that what this case is really about?" McEwen said.
Attorney William Seals told the jury that a lovers' triangle was the only reason his client, Felicia A. Ruffin, was sitting at the defendants table. Bennett was the only prosecution witness to identify Ruffin, 17, as a participant.
Bennett testified that he first told police in February that Ward was in the alley and had received one of Fuller's rings because he had heard Ward, also his girlfriend at one time, was pregnant by Rouse. Bennett later changed his story and identified Ruffin as receiving the ring.
Attorney Greta Van Susteren said that a different romantic link was responsible for some of the most damaging testimony against her client, 20-year-old Kelvin D. Smith. Carrie Eleby, who testified Smith was the father of her baby, told the jury that she saw Smith beat and kick Fuller.
On the day Fuller was killed, Van Susteren said, "Carrie Eleby was not looking for Kelvin Smith. She was looking for Calvin Alston . . . . Who's the real father of that child?"