Attorneys give opening statements in murder trial of man accused of strangling, stabbing mother of two

February 14, 2012|By DON AINES |
  • Carol Marie Brown
File photo

Darrol Chris Sands’ semen was in the body of Carol Marie Brown and his palm print was on the bathtub where her body was discovered nearly four years ago, but his defense attorney argued Tuesday in Washington County Circuit Court that the sex was consensual and there are other suspects in the Hagerstown woman’s murder.

Sands, 44, was indicted in 2010 on charges of first- and second-degree murder and manslaughter in the April 19, 2008, murder of Brown, a 22-year-old mother of two who was strangled and stabbed to death in her home at 457 Mitchell Ave.

Brown was addicted to drugs and had her children taken from her following a March 17, 2008, police raid on her home, Deputy State’s Attorney Joseph Michael told the jury in his opening statement. Her home had been used as a crack house, but after the raid, she was trying to change her life to regain custody, he said.

One of the people she was trying to get out of her life was Sands, Michael said.

“That person left his semen in her. That person left his palm print and that person confessed,” Michael said. “That person’s name is Darrol Sands.”

“He is certainly guilty of adultery. He’s not guilty of murder,” defense attorney James J. Podlas said in his opening statement. Sands, who lived across the street, had sex with Brown on April 18 and was hosting a birthday party the day of the murder.

Podlas said Sands went to the bathroom with another man after Brown’s mother, Marcella Maphis, came out of the house screaming after finding the body. He could have left a palm print then, or the night before when he used the bathtub, Podlas said.

There was DNA evidence of other men found in the apartment and “at least five other suspects” besides Sands, Podlas said.

The confession Michael mentioned was allegedly made by Sands to a neighbor years ago, and only came to light days ago, Podlas said.

Gary Little, who was working in the neighborhood that night, testified he went into the house with a unidentified black man after Maphis ran outside. Little testified he did not think the man touched the tub.

Neighbor Sharon Griffith testified she saw Brown outside at about 1:30 p.m. on April 19. She also testified she saw two black men enter and leave Brown’s home at different times prior to the body being discovered.

Judge John  H. McDowell told jurors the trial could run five or six days. About 50 people could be called to testify.

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