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Jury to resume deliberations in Darrol Sands' murder trial

Closing arguments offer different theories on what happened the night of Carol Marie Brown's death

February 23, 2012|By DON AINES | dona@herald-mail.com
  • Darrol Chris Sands
File photo

A jury of seven men and five women will resume deliberations today in Washington County Circuit Court in the case of Darrol Sands, a former Hagerstown man accused of the 2008 murder of Carol Marie Brown.

In their closing arguments Thursday, Assistant State’s Attorney Gina Cirincion and defense attorney James J. Podlas offered very different theories on what happened the night of April 19, 2008, when Brown was found strangled and stabbed in the bathtub of her Mitchell Avenue home.

“This is somebody he had become obsessed with,” Cirincion said of the relationship between Sands and Brown, a 22-year-old mother of two who lived across the street.

Podlas argued that Hagerstown police tested only some of the available DNA evidence and disregarded other possible suspects.

Following a drug raid at her home on March 17, 2008, Brown had been staying with a relative, cleaning her house and not using drugs in hopes of regaining custody of her children, Cirincion said. The night before Brown was killed was her first night back at the house, she said.

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Sands testified Wednesday that he had sex with Brown four times, paying her or her boyfriend in drugs or money. Sands said that the sexual relationship ended shortly after the drug raid, until he paid her $30 to have sex on the night of April 18, she said.

Cirincion argued that Brown, who was not on drugs when she died, was “cleaning up her act.” Brown told her grandmother she wanted Sands to leave her alone and put a sign on her door that read: “Leave Me Alone Thanks.”

“It didn’t work,” Cirincion said.

Sands went to Brown’s home eight times between April 17 and 19, Cirincion said. Brown was likely killed in the early afternoon of April 19 when Sands’ wife and mother-in-law had left the house to get birthday party supplies, she said.

Sands’ semen was found on vaginal swabs taken from Brown’s body, and his DNA was found on her bed sheet, Cirincion said. His left palm print was on the rim of the tub, she said.

There was no semen found in the pants and underwear Brown was seen wearing hours before her death, Cirincion said. Had Sands had sex with Brown the night before, DNA evidence would have been found on her clothes, she said.

Podlas called that a “voodoo theory” with no expert testimony to back it up.

The semen, DNA and palm print were consistent with Sands’ testimony of having sex with Brown the night before and washing up in her bathroom, Podlas argued. The prosecution could not explain why his DNA was not on the bloody comforter on top of the sheet, he said.

Police did not test unknown male DNA from Brown’s house against several men, including three with the street names “Ghost,” “Fresh” and “Q” who had a motive to kill Brown because of her connection to illegal drugs, Podlas said.

Police should have also looked more closely at neighbor Michael Carson, a heroin addict who testified for the prosecution that he had sexual relations with Brown a few weeks before the murder, he said.

William Fales, a man who testified Sands told him in 2008 that he killed Brown, was “a liar and a drama king,” Podlas said.

“This is not a drug crime .... This is personal,” Cirincion said of the manner of Brown’s death. “This was not a drive-by.”

The jury deliberated about 90 minutes before Judge John H. McDowell dismissed them for the night.

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