- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 5, 2003

A Montgomery County judge will decide whether statements Benjamin Sifrit's wife has made about his role in the slaying of two visitors to Ocean City including comments about "wasting" the couple can be used in his upcoming trial.
Worcester County prosecutors want to use Erika Sifrit's statements to police about the murder of the Fairfax couple over Memorial Day weekend, including comments about covering up the crime and killing the pair.
Mr. Sifrit, 25, of Altoona, Pa., faces first-degree murder charges in the gruesome slayings of Martha Crutchley, 51, and her boyfriend, Joshua Ford, 32. Both were found dismembered in a Delaware landfill.
Mr. Sifrit's trial, set for March 31, was moved to Montgomery County because of pretrial publicity. His wife faces murder charges in Frederick County.
The motion filed in Mr. Sifrit's case stated that Mrs. Sifrit told Ocean City police that her husband instructed her to "shut your mouth, don't talk to anyone." She said her husband told her if police didn't have the body they couldn't pin the crime on the couple.
Worcester County Deputy State's Attorney E. Scott Collins said that statement was key to proving the Sifrits conspired to hide their guilt from police.
"They are continuing the effort to cover up this homicide," Mr. Collins said.
Prosecutors said Mrs. Sifrit also told a Secret Service agent that minutes before the killings her husband said: "What … are we supposed to do now? I'm just going to … waste them? Cool?"
Mrs. Sifrit, they said, answered: "Just … do it. You got them naked. You put a gun to their heads. Just do it."
Mr. Sifrit's attorney, William Brennan, said Mrs. Sifrit's statements can't be admitted because she likely won't take the stand in the case to verify them.
Prosecutors "are seeking to put in what our client said through the mouth of Erika Sifrit," Mr. Brennan said.
Montgomery County Circuit Judge Paul Weinstein said yesterday he will review the motion before ruling on its admissibility.
Prosecutors said the Sifrits killed Miss Crutchley and Mr. Ford while partying with the pair at an Ocean City condominium. Miss Crutchley's and Mr. Ford's bodies were torn apart not cut packaged in plastic bags and dumped in Delaware.
The Sifrits were arrested days after the killings while trying to break into a Hooters restaurant in Ocean City, police said.
Ruling on a separate motion, Judge Weinstein said yesterday that prosecutors couldn't use the robbery accusations against Mr. Sifrit in his murder trial.
A Frederick County judge ruled last month that similar statements Mrs. Sifrit made couldn't be used in her trial, scheduled for June 2.
Security was tight for the hearing because authorities were worried about Mr. Sifrit's skills as a former Navy SEAL, an elite special operations unit.
Five Montgomery County sheriff deputies guarded Mr. Sifrit in the courtroom and refused to remove his shackles.
Mr. Sifrit picked a lock on his cell while being held in Worcester County, Ocean City Detective Scott Bernal said.

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