Friday, April 20, 2001

A jury yesterday delivered guilty verdicts on three counts of first-degree murder and conspiracy against James Edward Perry for killing a quadriplegic 8-year-old boy, the boys mother and his nurse in 1993.
It was the accused hit mans second trial for the murders of Trevor Horn, Mildred Elizabeth Maree Horn and Janice Roberts Saunders; he was convicted and sentenced to death in the first trial.
Two years ago, Marylands highest court ruled that a 22-second recorded telephone conversation offered as evidence in Perrys 1995 trial was inadmissible and overturned his conviction.
Prosecutors said a sentencing date wont be set until after motions hearings on Monday, so it remains to be seen if the former Detroit street preacher who once had a radio program will get a death sentence again.
Victims family members, who held vigils in the courtroom throughout most of the five-week proceeding, said they believe returning Perry to death row would restore justice.
“None of us should ever have had to have been here,” said Mary Lou Roberts, whose daughter, Trevors nurse, died in the apparent murder-for-hire scheme designed to tap the childs $1.8 million medical settlement. “Theres no doubt he should get death . Thats what Maryland law says — it qualifies over the top.”
Mrs. Horns ex-husband, former Motown recording engineer Lawrence Horn, was convicted in 1996 and is serving three life sentences for arranging the killings.
Both women were shot in the face and eyes in the early-morning hours of March 3, 1993. Trevor, who could survive only minutes without a respirator, suffocated after his breathing apparatus was disconnected.
Horns two daughters — Trevors twin, who is now a teen-ager, and another who is now in her 20s — were not in the home at the time of the killings.
They were at the courthouse yesterday with their aunts and uncles, who said they felt relief at the verdict, which the jury of 10 women and two men delivered after almost 40 hours of deliberation.
“This has been difficult since March of 1993. It continues to be hard to know that three lovely people lost their lives to evil, and in the aftermath, it was hard to endure one trial after another,” said Gloria Maree, one of Mildred Horns sisters.
Perrys attorney, William Brennan, said he would make no comment until after his clients sentencing. Under Maryland law, a defendant cannot appeal his case until he has been sentenced.
To deliver a death sentence in Maryland, a jury must find that a defendant played a principal role in the murder.
Mr. Brennan argued such a finding is difficult because no physical evidence was found in the house linking Perry to the crime, although police scoured the house in the 13500 block of North Gate Drive for fingerprints, footprints, fibers, tire tracks, hair, DNA, blood and saliva.
Prosecutor Robert Dean pointed to 260 telephone calls, including some between Horn in Hollywood, Calif., and Perry in a Gaithersburg motel near the time of the killings, as evidence of “extraordinary planning.”
Other key evidence was the book “Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors,” which Perry bought.
Mr. Dean said Perry was able to commit the murders without leaving evidence by following more than a dozen directions from the book.
A former Montgomery County prosecutor, Mr. Dean now prosecutes cases for the Prince Georges County States Attorneys Office. But he returned to prosecute Perry a second time under an agreement with Montgomery County States Attorney Douglas F. Gansler, who beat Mr. Dean in a bid for the elected post in 1998.
Prosecutors said a gag order from Perrys earlier trial still stands.
* Arlo Wagner contributed to this article.

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