UPDATED (1:30 p.m.)—A jury will begin deliberations this afternoon in the murder and conspiracy trial of a woman accused of providing the murder weapon used in a Towson shooting
Susan M. Datta, 53, is standing trial on charges of conspiracy and use of a handgun in the committing a crime in the March 1 shooting of William R. Porter at his Hess gas station in Towson. Prosecutors allege the Essex woman borrowed the gun from an acquaintance to give to her sister, Karla Porter, the victim's husband.
Karla Porter allegedly then passed the gun off to a hit man, who shot William Porter twice in the head in a $9,000 contract killing.
Attorneys presented closing arguments early Wednesday afternoon. Prosecutor Jennifer Schiffler told the jury, "She didn't have to do as much as she did" to rise to the level of accessory in the case, "but she makes it an easy question.
Defense attorney Larry Litt portrayed his client as someone who had been "betrayed" by her sister, who she trusted and believed.
In her Wednesday testimony, she claimed Karla Porter came to her frequently complaining of abuse, at one point saying her husband stuck a gun in her face.
"I thought she was just blowing off steam," she told the jury. "She couldn't take it out on her husband, so she'd take it out on me."
Karla Porter's calls and visits became more frequent early this year, Datta said. Datta then turned to a friend, Ben Whaley, from whom she would occasionally borrow a handgun for self-defense. She borrowed a gun, but did not tell him why she needed it and claimed in testimony that Karla Porter had not specifically asked for it. Datta said she made her sister promise only to use the handgun in self-defense.
She said that while being questioned by police, she was in a diabetic "fog" and was not given suitable food to eat. She said that she was still in shock from the incident at the time and that some of the things she had said may not have been true.
"There was so much going on during the interview," she said. "I had a lot of anger inside of me, a lot of concern. What I was saying, I was very confused."
She contradicted some of her earlier testimony on cross-examination and said she did not know the gun she gave to Karla would be used in the murder. On the day of the incident, she told investigators, Karla Porter said to her in the hospital after the shooting, "I should have divorced him."
When asked by a prosecutor why that remark didn't raise any red flags, Datta said, "She was saying other things too that wasn't making any sense."
In closing arguments, prosecutors accused her of lying on the stand as they replayed tapes of her answers to a detective in March.
Datta was emotional through some of her testimony, but sat mostly motionless at the defense table, wearing a purple sweater and dark green slacks.
The jury is set to return to deliberate later this afternoon.