CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Witnesses testifying Monday in an evidence hearing for a 2009 slaying described a victim who prayed for her safety, sought legal protection, and changed her phone number and locks.
Franklin County (Pa.) Court of Common Pleas Judge Richard Walsh heard testimony throughout the morning as the lawyers and judge determine what evidence will be used in Marcus Wallace’s December trial.
Wallace, 41, is charged with first-degree murder, second-degree murder, burglary, criminal trespass, criminal mischief, attempted criminal homicide and aggravated assault.
Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty, said Wallace attacked his 70-year-old mother, Consuella Wallace, in her Hamilton Township, Pa., home Dec. 10, 2009. She died of her injuries in February 2010.
Police, family and neighbors offered testimony Monday as Wallace took notes in the courtroom.
“She was scared of him, fearful,” said Charlotte Woods, the woman’s friend.
Consuella Wallace’s niece, Yvette Marks, read a letter purported to be from her aunt to Marcus Wallace, who was adopted by his parents. In the letter from 1993, Consuella Wallace tells her son to move out of her home, and stop using drugs and alcohol.
“I love you, but I can’t live life the way you want me to. ... You have a good mind — use it, not me,” Marks said when quoting the letter on the witness stand.
“It looks like it says, ‘Love, Mom,’” she said when finishing the reading.
Marks, who lived with Consuella Wallace when the woman had health problems, looked at her cousin after she put the letter down.
Neighbor Ronald Sugden from Pleasantview Drive testified that he and his wife prayed with Consuella Wallace several times.
“She was praying for her safety,” he said. “She was afraid.”
Pennsylvania State Police troopers testified about times they were called to the house in 1996. In one incident, Marcus Wallace allegedly fled into a nearby wooded area and was found by a trained dog.
Franklin County Prothonotary Linda Beard read from protection-from-abuse orders bearing a signature that Marks testified matched her aunt’s. In one application for a protection-from-abuse order, Consuella Wallace allegedly claimed her son said she would regret calling the police, and that she was “unable to sleep and very nervous.”
The protection-from-abuse applications and family testimony indicate Consuella Wallace changed her phone number several times, added a bar to secure doors into the floor, added deadbolts and kept a gun in her bedroom.
Defense attorney Michael Palermo asked witnesses if they had firsthand knowledge of Wallace’s handwriting or her requesting protection-from-abuse orders. He asked witnesses to specify dates of their conversations with the woman and with his client.
Another hearing about the suppression of evidence is scheduled for Sept. 6. It will involve videoconference testimony from some of Consuella Wallace’s out-of-state relatives.