Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Trial Of Nicole Burgess Murder Suspect Begins
From the Capital-Gazette:
Nicole Burgess lived in a single-family home in Davidsonville she inherited from her parents and ran a successful linens business.
But it was her second business selling about $240,000 a month in marijuana that prosecutors said led to her death in 2013.
"She was leading a double life," assistant state's attorney Jason Miller said.
Terrence Proctor, 37, of Hyattsville is facing a charge of first-degree murder for her death as prosecutors argue Proctor stabbed Burgess and a pit bull mix insider her home on the 3300 block of Royale Glen Court on March 22, 2013.
Monday marked the first day of the bench trial as Proctor pleaded not guilty while waiving his right to a jury trial.
Opening arguments painted two stories of how Proctor ended up charged with Burgess' murder.
Miller said Proctor said it was Burgess' forays into the drug world that led to her death. Burgess received a package of about seven pounds of marijuana from the west coast, part of a pattern where she shipped "about 30 pounds of weed every two weeks" and selling about $240,000 of marijuana each month, she said.
"With that much money, with that much product in an illicit business, it's dangerous," he said.
Proctor, who prosecutors said met Burgess through a mutual friend, had arranged to meet her at her home that morning, briefly exchanging text messages around 8:15 a.m.
Miller said cell phone records indicate Proctor then either shut off
his phone or put it on airplane mode at 8:36 a.m., not turning it back on until 11:22 a.m.
He said Proctor drive to Burgess' home, stabbed her 28 times, killed her and the dog, and stole the seven pounds of marijuana. Miller said two pieces of evidence signaled Proctor's link to the scene.
The first was a piece of DNA evidence found on a sliding door that investigators said was Proctor's. Proctor's attorney, William Cooke, countered there was no way to date when the DNA was left at the home.
Miller said the second piece of evidence was a text message sent from Proctor to Burgess following her death.
Miller said Proctor stole Burgess' iPhone from her home following the murder, but not two "burner" phones, or inexpensive phones with pre-paid plans and no contracts.
After Proctor realized he didn't have the phone he'd been talking to Burgess on, Miller said he "texted Nicole a fake alibi" about another meeting.
"This was a crime of opportunity," Miller said, adding Proctor was "taking advantage of Nicole's success in the marijuana trade."
Cooke pointed to how long it took police to arrest Proctor, showing slides of empty calendar months to illustrate how it took over a year before he was formally indicted.
"They say you can indict a ham sandwich, and I certainly believe that this is the case," Cooke said.
He also argued outside of the DNA, there's a lack of evidence to put Proctor at the scene.
He said there are no surveillance cameras from nearby businesses that showed footage of Cooke in the area or driving away.
In addition, Cooke said pieces of the prosecution's case contradict their narrative of Proctor killing and robbing Burgess.
Cooke said shoe prints lifted from the scene did not match Proctor's and there was money left at the home.
"There was zero evidence that (Proctor) was there that day," he said. "They don't know where he was the day of the murder."The trial will continue Tuesday with witness testimony