Robert Paul Lucas testified in his own defense yesterday that a homosexual act caused him to fight and kill a man he later learned was a Catholic priest.
Under cross-examination by Montgomery County Deputy States Attorney Katherine Winfree, the homeless tree-trimmer repeatedly acknowledged he did not tell anyone, friends or police, that the sex act caused him to stab Monsignor Thomas Wells, 56, nine times on June 8 at the Mother Seton Parish in Germantown.
“I was just too embarrassed,” Lucas, 26, explained when re-questioned by Assistant Public Defender Brian Shefferman.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys are expected to give closing arguments this morning and the jury, selected 10 days ago, will begin deliberating the charges of murder, robbery and burglary against Lucas.
The largest Montgomery County courtroom was packed yesterday, mostly with members of the Mother Seton parish, as Lucas took the stand for five hours of testimony.
Answering most questions directly, he lowered his head, sniffled and wiped his eyes and nose with bare hands as he described the sex act and later trying to wipe up blood in the rectory bedroom and bathroom.
“The next thing I know, he was still. He wasnt moving,” Lucas said, then said he rolled Monsignor Wells over and “hes just staring at me.”
Like previous witnesses, Lucas said he was drunk when he left the Magic Cue bar about 10:15 p.m. June 7. He said he planned to go to a friends nearby apartment, maybe to sleep in his truck, when he went instead into some woods, stumbled over a tree root and wet his pants. He was wearing Redskins sweat pants under blue-jean khakis.
Because he didnt want his friend to see he had wet his pants, Lucas said he went to the rectory, which he thought was an office building, and broke a window, thinking he might climb in.
Lucas said a man who was wearing only a T-shirt and underpants, whom he thought was a caretaker, asked him what he was doing and suggested he would call police.
In a conversation of nearly two hours that began outdoors, then up to a deck, into a living room and bedroom, the man asked him about brief girlfriend relationships, relationships with his family, and if he ever considered a relationship with a homosexual.
“I said, ‘I dont know. Ive never been confronted with that before,” Lucas said.
The man eventually encouraged him to massage him, commit oral sex and eventually pray, which Lucas said caused him to cry.
Lucas said he “passed out” again, awoke to find his pants had been removed and the man lying on him. They struggled and Lucas said he somehow got his pocket knife from his pants and used it on the man.
“It angered me. It excited me. Not to the point I was excited for joy. I was just wound up,” Lucas said, and, “He was yelling, ‘Calm down,” and “‘You stabbed me. You stabbed me.”
“I remember having my thumb inside his throat,” in one of the stab wounds, Lucas said. “All I saw was one big gush come out of his throat.”
Lucas testified he found some money in a white envelope, a T-shirt to replace his bloody Harley-Davidson shirt, a wristwatch and some sacred memorial coins.
“When I woke up the next morning, I knew I had more money than I had had,” Lucas said, adding that he drank beer as he stared at the memorial coins.
Lucas briefly described his life history, but was never asked about convictions for drunken driving, theft and burglary. He has lived in Oxon Hill, Silver Spring, Damascus and Laytonsville, often with his mother, three brothers and half-sister. He said his father often hit his mother and now lives in South Carolina.
Lucas said he finished the ninth grade and worked as a landscaper, auto mechanic, in maintenance and construction and finally as a tree trimmer. He admitted being expelled in the seventh grade and completing his education at the Mark Twain school for troubled students, but denied to Mrs. Winfree that it was because he punched a teacher.
Lucas said he began smoking when he was 8 years old, drinking when he was 12 or 13. Finally, he said, he smoked about 2 1/2 packs of cigarettes and drank a case of beer each day.