Gene T. Meyer, the computer technician convicted of stabbing a coworker's wife and infant daughter to death as part of "you-kill-my-wife, I'll-kill-yours" plot, stood expressionless yesterday as a judge sentenced him to life in prison and told him he wished the penalty could be harsher.
But, moments after Judge Jacob S. Levin concluded the sentencing, Meyer turned pale. He had just gotten a clear view of the face of Frank Mazzone, a Maryland state police captain who entered the courtroom and sat down next to prosecutor Joseph Sauerwein.
Then, in a revelation that stunned the courtroom and caused Meyer to collapse in shock, prosecutor Sauerwein rose to tell the judge that Mazzone, posing as lawyer, had visited Meyer and Meyer, he said, has solicited Mazzone to kill four more people - Meyer's own wife, his partner in the wife-killing plot, and two Prince George's County policemen.
Meyer's lawyer protested and reporters rushed out of the courtroom to question the prosecutor.
Then the marshal guarding Meyer cried out. Meyer had fainted, slumping to the floor in front of his chair.
Marshals cleared the courtroom, called the rescue squad, and a jail medic administered oxygen to revive Meyer.
The rescue squad did not arrive until 30 minutes later. Then ambulance attendants and marshals led by Meyer's lawyer wheeled him out the front door of the courthouse.
But the ambulance was waiting in the rear. As television cameras closely pursued them, the attendants turned the stretcher and wheeled it around the building.
By then, however, the ambulance was headed toward the front.
Once again, the ambulance and the stretcher turned around, but this time the ambulance overshot the stretcher and had to circle the block a second time before finally pulling up to take on Meyer.
In the meantime, Judge Levin emerged from the courtroom and said, "If you wanted to write a book you couldn't come up with a stranger story than all this."
Meyer revived and was released from Prince George's General Hospital yesterday afternoon and returned to the County Detention Center.
The bizarre crime occured last September 23. Lon A. Lewis arrived home from his job as a computer technician in Baltimore to find the blood-soaked bodies of his wife Carol, 28, and daughter, Heather, 4 months, on the kitchen floor of their Bowie home.
Meyer and Lewis confessed in October that Meyer offered to kill Lewis' wife so Lewis could be free to be with a girlfriend in Texas. In return, Lewis agreed to kill Meyer's wife so Meyer could collect a $100,000 life insurance policy.
Meyer was convicted April 26 of carrying out his end of the bargain in the Lewis home at 4807 Raemore La. Lewis was convicted on murder charges on May 26.
According to State's Attorney Arthur A. Marshall Jr., his office received information during the first week in May from the Greenbelt city police that led them to send Mazzone, an expert in undercover work, to Meyer posing as a lawyer.
Although Marshall would not comment on the information supplied by the Greenbelt police, sources said that Meyer had asked another prisoner at the county detention center to send someone to the jail for purposes of hiring him to commit murder. Instead, the sources said the prisoner went to the city police.
Those same sources said that Meyer had offered Mazzone $40,000 to commit the four murders. Mazzone refused to comment on this allegation. He said only that he had been doing undercover work since 1962 and had been offered money to commit murder "10 to 12" times before the Meyer case.
Prosecutors said Meyer will be arraigned Thursday on charges of soliciting Mazzone to commit four additional murders.
Earlier yesterday, after denying a motion for a new trial made by Meyer's lawyer, Joseph DePaul, Levin had sentenced Meyer to life in prison for the first-degree murder of Carol Lewis and 30 years for the second-degree murder of Heather Lewis. Meyer could be eligible for parole after serving as little as 13 years.
Persons convicted of multiple murders may be sentenced to death under a law enacted this spring by the Maryland legislature, but the law doesn't apply to Meyer since it was not in effect when he committed the murders.
Judge Levin said, "If I had it in my power to increase this sentence, I would. But I am restricted by the law."
"I sat for five days during your trial and looked persistently and repeatedly for some kind of reason or motive, need or justification for these crimes and I found absolutely nothing," he told Meyer. "It is beyond my comprehension why these murders had to take place and I will never know the answer to my dying day why this unfortunate lady had to be slain."