They partied for days on end, had casual sex, smoked marijuana, guzzled beer poured through funnels and tubes and, last year, two of them, according to police, stabbed and tried to rob the Nigerian cabdriver who bankrolled their good times in his Germantown town house.
Yesterday, in a Montgomery County courtroom, it seemed at times that the anomie and amorality of this young, up-county suburban crowd was on trial as much as Kelly Lynn Bradshaw, the 23-year-old woman accused of helping to kill her estranged husband, Olanepekun M. "Tony" Oyefusi, in September 1998.
"The characters in this trial are just like the characters in the 'Jerry Springer Show,' " said defense attorney Victoria Tyler, who, in her opening statement likened both her client and the upcoming prosecution witnesses to the guests on the often violent television show.
"These are people who lead empty lives, who are petty, who really don't care anything about anyone," Tyler said in her opening statement before Circuit Court Judge S. Michael Pincus.
The slaying may have provided them some diversion, according to prosecutors, whose first-day witnesses included a woman who described the rap-lyric style of a handwritten note that appeared to describe the murder plans. "It was like jive talk," Beata Webb said.
Bradshaw, charged with her boyfriend, Darrell Butler, in Oyefusi's death, is on trial on charges of first-degree murder, attempted robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon, conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous and deadly weapon.
Butler, 20, of Odenton, pleaded guilty in July to first-degree murder and is being held at the Montgomery County jail pending sentencing. Bradshaw has been held at the detention center as well, without bond.
Bradshaw's lawyers argue that it was Butler alone who killed Oyefusi. The decomposing body of the 43-year-old man was found Oct. 1, 1998, naked on the bedroom floor of his Laurel Grove Place town house, stabbed 12 times, cut 16 additional times and covered with blood, amid overturned furniture and blood-spattered walls.
Tyler cautioned jurors not to believe the prosecution portrayal of Bradshaw as "the dominatrix, the puppeteer, the black widow." She described Bradshaw as a troubled alcoholic, held in the romantic thrall of Butler.
But prosecutors said Bradshaw participated fully in the deed, luring Oyefusi into bed with her, signaling the waiting Butler with a candle in the window and then helping Butler kill him, stabbing him in the neck and holding him down while Bradshaw stabbed him repeatedly.
Bradshaw came to know Oyefusi from a ride she took in his cab, and they were married in 1997, according to Robert Hill, assistant state's attorney. Hill said Bradshaw regarded him as "a meal ticket," and Tyler acknowledged that Oyefusi "gave her anything she wanted."
About two weeks before the slaying, Oyefusi threw Bradshaw out after he caught her having sex with Butler in the town house, Hill said. After that, Bradshaw and Butler plotted to kill Oyefusi, rob him of the $200 or $300 he was likely to bring home from his night on the job and take the television and VCR in the apartment, prosecutors believe.
Webb and her husband, James Webb, testified that they had been letting Bradshaw stay with them, because she was a friend of their niece Angelina "Angel" DiSalvo. On Sept. 29, the night police believe the slaying took place, Bradshaw and Butler were in the couple's Germantown home, passing a spiral notebook back and forth, while laughing and drinking beer through a "bong," a plastic tube with a funnel at one end that shoots beer rapidly into the throat.
Webb identified two knives police found in the bushes near the crime scene as kitchen knives that had disappeared from their home and said that Butler had not been allowed to go up to the second-floor kitchen, where they were kept.
Later, James Webb said, he found a piece of spiral-type notebook paper in the bathroom, shortly after Butler had been there.
"It said, 'Cut the (expletive),' and then something about 'duct tape him' and a baseball bat," Webb recalled. "It was like a poem."